Idle No More Actions Target Bridges, Movement Vows 'We Are Here to Stay'

Series of actions on Saturday shuts down US-Canadian bridge

Idle No More continues its momentum with a series of demonstrations on Saturday including one that has shut down a US-Canadian bridge as the movement continues its demands for Indigenous sovereignty.

CBC News reports that police closed the International Bridge in Cornwall, Ontario, when at least 100 protesters marched there, and adds that other international bridges will be sites of actions as well:

  • The Peace Arch crossing in Surrey, B.C., from 1 to 2 p.m. PT.
  • NWT's Deh Cho Bridge between 2 and 4 p.m. MT.
  • The Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, Ont., for one hour. Sarnia police said the bridge would be closed in both directions from noon until 1 p.m.
  • The Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo in the Niagara region, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Organizers say it will be "peaceful," and they will occupy only one lane of traffic on the international bridge.
  • A disruption is also planned at the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge between Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake.

CTV News adds:

Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox said the main reason behind the protests was the passing of Bill C-45.

Protesters say First Nations lands and treaty rights are being infringed upon through the government's contentious omnibus budget bill.

"This is something that many First Nations have always wanted to get the general public to understand," said Fox.

"We never relinquished any of the resources. We never ceded any of the resources, the minerals, that was not part of the treaty."

The day's actions follow a Friday statement from the movement that vowed it was "here to stay" and that it would continue to work for its goals of "Indigenous sovereignty (Nation to Nation relationship) and protection of the land and water (Social and Environmental Sustainability)."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Friday announcement he would meet with Indigenous leaders on Jan. 11 is being met with caution.

"It won't take just one meeting to address what is broken. We will hold the prime minister's feet to the fire," Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, a deputy grand chief of an Ontario First Nation, said at a news conference.

And Attawapiskat First Nation's Chief Theresa Spence, who began a hunger strike Dec. 11 unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper met to discuss treaty rights and Canada's relationship with its Indigenous peoples, reacted, saying:

"I will continue my hunger strike and await the outcomes of the meeting. Our Peoples have had a history of prior promises and commitments from the Canadian government with no true tangible results. We look forward to re-establishing and strengthening our Treaty relationship with Canada and the ongoing discussions that will lead to the recognition, implementation and advancement our inherent and treaty rights,"

Idle No More has garnered international solidarity actions and has received the support of human rights and indigenous organiztions. Singer and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie also added her support for Chief Spence and Saturday's actions in this video:

CBC News has video on Saturday's bridge shutdown in Cornwall:

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