Idle No More rallies at Peach Arch border crossing
Published Saturday, January 5, 2013 8:00PM PST
Last Updated Sunday, January 6, 2013 12:48PM PST
Hundreds of supporters of the Idle No More protest movement gathered for a peaceful demonstration at Surrey’s Peace Arch border crossing Saturday.
Protestors from Washington and Canada joined at the border surrounding the Peace Arch monument.
The group sang songs, drummed and waved flags for their cause. Idle No More advocates First Nations treaty rights and opposes the federal government’s omnibus bill C-45.
“We came up here to support Idle No More; our brothers and sisters here in Canada,” said Sweetwater Nannauck from Seattle. “What they’re going through here is what all of indigenous people in Canada and the U.S. and all around the world have been suffering through too.”
The event was part of a series of protests held at border crossings across Canada. In Cornwall, Ontario, the Seaway International Bridge was closed for three hours as protestors marched across the bridge.
While several other border crossings were shut down during today’s protests, Peace Arch crossing remained open.
Many were there in support of First Nations Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike in an attempt to have a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss First Nations’ issues.
Harper has agreed to meet with First Nations leaders on Jan. 11, but some remain skeptical. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said he’s seen the promise for talks before.
"What’s going to really make the difference here is a solid commitment with concrete investments toward alleviating the disgraceful level of poverty in First Nations communities," said Phillip.
But others, such as Charlene Frank from the Squamish Nation, said the event was more about an ongoing message.
“The message is that we’re not going to stand still anymore,” said Frank. “We’re all awake. Each day and every gathering we have, more and more people are waking up and joining.”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Scott Hurst