The Idle No More movement will touch down in Yarmouth on Saturday, Jan. 5, when a march being organized by Acadia First Nations band member Sonya Isaac-Surette takes place along Starrs Road.
Organizers are asking people to rally at noon at the Acadia Band offices on the airport stretch. The march will proceed along Starrs Road to the Zellers mall where marchers will gather around 1 p.m.
Yarmouth Mall manager Linda Deveau said the necessary permits are in place for participants to congregate in the public area of the mall.
Organizers are planning to hold a round dance that will be led by Mi'Kmaq drummers. Isaac-Surette said Wednesday she has received confirmation that New Brunswick drummers, Garland Joe Augustine and his brother Henry Augustine will lead the march with their drums..
The demonstration is being held in support of Idle No More, a Canadian-spawned movement that is picking up international support. Its aim is to mobilize people to take action to protect land and water resources and indigenous rights. It is a response to the passage of Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill passed by the federal government in the fall. Among its provisions are sweeping changes to legislation governing environmental protection of Canada’s lakes, rivers and streams.
Isaac-Surette says the bill should be a cause of concern for all Canadians.
She says the bill is particularly threatening to indigenous people, as it reduces autonomy over their land and undermines treaty rights.
“Native people, for the most part, have never really rallied … but people really need to understand what that bill will do,” she said.
She believes the bill’s provisions will ease regulatory checks on resource development.
“They want to drill for oil. They want to get the pipelines through. On the native side of it, they want to give themselves access to our lands,” she said.
The movement has gained international attention since Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike early in December as a means of securing a meeting between First Nations leaders, the prime minister and Governor General. She wants a discussion about the treaty relationship and how it would be impacted by Bill C-45.
There have been several other Idle No More demonstrations in Nova Scotia in December, including a flash mob at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth just before Christmas and several information pickets at Mill Brook and the Canso Causeway.
A contingent from the Maritimes made the trek to Ottawa just before New Year's Day to meet with Chief Spence.