Protest at Canadian Embassy shows solidarity with Idle No More movement

A protestor dramatizes the effect that Tar Sands gas extraction would have on the First Nations of Canada.

by John Zangas

In a steady, soaking rain in front of the Canadian Embassy, 25 protestors rallied in solidarity with the Canadian-based “Idle No More” movement. They voiced their objections to the Tar Sands development in Canada, a source of oil and gas, which they believe has the potential to be environmentally catastrophic.

The protest at the Washington, DC embassy was one of many across Canada, United States and several South American countries in a  “global day of action” by Idle No More, a protest movement originating with native tribes in Canada. Specifically, Idle No More calls for the Canadian leadership to reject Bill C/45, which indigenous leaders argue erodes their right to land autonomy.

Extraction of the petroleum deposits known as Tar Sands poses a grave environmental threat to the northern provinces populated by First Nations. Both Tar Sands and the proposed XL Pipeline, which would transport extracted natural gas, seize land under imminent domain.

Navaho Chris Almanza

Protestor Chris Almanza, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, carried a flag representing his Arizona Navaho Nation. He grew up on the Navaho reservation in Tuba City, Arizona. “The reason why I’m here now is to show my support to our Native brothers in Canada,” he said. “I feel it’s not a one-issue thing, because the roots are deeper. It’s our struggle, it’s everyone else’s struggle.”

The global day of action supported an ongoing indefinite hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. She briefly attended a meeting with Prime Minister Steven Harper before walking out because the Governor General didn’t attend. First Nation representatives felt their concerns weren’t adequately addressed.

The Idle No More Movement, organized by four Saschatuan Native Canadian women, has grown rapidly in less than four months. Idle No More plans a national day of action on January 16.

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