(Idle No More rally in Halifax Monday morning. APTN/Photo)
APTN National News
A Manitoba First Nation issued a stop work order to a mining company Monday, while in Ottawa First Nations issues burst onto the floor of the House of Commons on a day that again saw Idle No More rallies unfold around across the continent.
Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash also introduced a private members bill to make federal laws compatible with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Idle No More called for an international day of action Monday and rallies were held from Halifax to Vancouver and in various locations across the U.S.
In Snow Lake, Man., Mathias Colomb Cree Nation Chief Arlen Dumas issued a stop work other to HudBay Minerals and the Manitoba government.
Dumas, along with Manitoba regional Chief Bill Traverse and Indigenous rights activist Pam Palmater, were on site during the day to deliver the edict.
The mining company has applied for a Class 2 Environment Act license to construct and operate the Lalor Mine.
Dumas said the site is on the territory of the Missinippi Nehethowak, which is represented by the Mathias Colomb band.
“As you know, the Lalor Mine is within our traditional territories not ceded by any treaty,” wrote Dumas in a letter delivered to the company and the provincial government. “I strongly advise that a representative of the province of Manitoba and HudBay meet with us on an urgent basis to discuss this matter. In the interim, we have issued a stop work order directed at HudBay under the sovereign laws, jurisdiction and authority of Missinippi Nehethowak.”
HudBay could not be reached for comment.
According to the company’s website, HudBay has been mining zinc, copper, gold and silver in the Snow Lake, which sits about 215 km east of Flin Flon, Man., since 1958. The company says it has a 985-metre underground production shaft at Lalor slated for completion by 2014.
FIRST NATIONS ISSUES HIT THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
And while the drama unfolded in Snow Lake, thousands of kilometres away in Ottawa, a different kind of battle unfolded on the floor of the House of Commons during question period.
While about 400 people rallied and round danced on the snow-covered lawn of Parliament Hill, inside NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal interim leader Bob Rae aimed question period salvos at Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding that his government take the nation-to-nation relationship seriously and commit to real consultations.
“Gutting environmental projection for thousands of lakes on Aboriginal territories is not meaningful consultation, cancelling thousands of environmental assessments over the objections of First Nations is not meaningful consultation,” said Mulcair. “The prime minister promised respect on a nation to nation basis. Will the prime minister finally agree to consult and to listen on the environmental protection on First Nations lands and waters?”
Harper responded saying his government does respect its duty to consult along with Aboriginal and treaty rights.
“We have made unprecedented investment into things that will make a concrete difference in the lives of people, in skilled training, in housing on reserves, in potable water, in schools, in treaty rights, in protection of the rights of women,” said Harper.
Rae also challenged Harper to reveal what he planned to do to change the deteriorating relationship with First Nations people.
“Can the prime minister tell us what further action is he going to take and what change he is going to introduce that will in fact end the sense that the Aboriginal population of Canada is being marginalized by the policies of the government of Canada?” said Rae.
Harper countered, saying Aboriginal people had a stronger voice in government than ever before.
“I notice that Aboriginal people have never been as strongly represented in the government of Canada as they are in this caucus today and we intend to move forward,” said Harper.
Harper’s cabinet includes Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is an Inuk from Nunavut, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue, who is Innu from Labrador and the Conservative caucus includes Aboriginal MPs Rob Clarke, Shelly Glover and Rod Bruinooge. Harper also appointed Algonquin Patrick Brazeau to the senate.
SAGANASH INTRODUCES PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL
Earlier in the day, Saganash introduced a private members bill to ensure all future government legislation would comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People which contains about 46 provisions on consultation.
Referring to the Idle No More movement, Saganash said First Nations people were tired of the status quo and it was time for the Canadian government to help fashion a new relationship.
“As Idle No More protests grow throughout the country, it is time for the Stephen Harper government to take action and build more respectful relations with members of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis,” said Saganash, during a press conference Monday morning. “They are tired of the current status quo which leaves them in difficult living conditions, below the standards we expect in a rich country like ours.”
The Idle No More movement was initially sparked by Conservative government’s omnibus Bill C-45 and Bill C-38, which streamlined environmental reviews, withdrew the majority of waterways from federal protection and amended the Indian Act.
Both bills have been passed into law.
First Nations leaders have said the government did not consult with them as required under the Constitution on laws that impact Aboriginal and treaty rights.
IDLE NO MORE RALLIES ACROSS CONTINENT
During the Idle No More rally in Ottawa, Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day told about 400 people that the game had changed.
“Prime Minister, this is just the beginning…we are going to remain idle no more,” said Day. “Times are changing, we are idle no more.”
And with drums pounding and singing rising against a steady snowfall a round dance unfurled in the shadow of the Peace Tower.
Idle No More also stirred on the East Coast in Halifax as about 200 people drummed and marched across one of two main bridges through the city. The rally also launched a large round dance, which has been the staple of the movement, in the Halifax Commons, a large park in the middle of the city.
From Toronto to Vancouver and in the United States, Idle No More flexed its muscles once again in a reminder that the movement was far from fading away.
Watch APTN National News Monday evening for full coverage of the day’s events.