Idle No More protesters rally in Manitoba
Idle No More rallies were held across Manitoba on Friday as part of a national day of protests.
The rallies began Friday morning, when a handful of people gathered near the Canadian Mennonite University at Grant Avenue and Shaftesbury Boulevard in Winnipeg.
That rally was primarily attended by non-indigenous people who wanted to show support for aboriginal people's rights.
"This is something that affects indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike," said Brad Langendoen, who led the rally.
He says it's important that all Manitobans show support for Idle No More because the movement protests Bill C-45, the federal government's bill that proposes 'harmful' changes to land and resources.
About 150 people gathered near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at about noon, performing round dances and blocking streets.
"We did see some cars driving over medians to get around. They were pretty frustrated, honking horns," said CBC News reporter Jillian Taylor.
Some protesters then marched to the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street, where they halted traffic there for a brief time.
Some also started a round dance on Portage Avenue, just outside the University of Winnipeg, just after 1 p.m. They halted traffic there for about 20 minutes.
[IMAGEGALLERY galleryid=3599 size=small]
Late Friday afternoon, about 75 people gathered outside the provincial legislature for an Idle No More rally.
Other rallies took place at the University of Manitoba and in Brandon, Man.
The University of Winnipeg's Aboriginal Students Association has also asked its 1,200 aboriginal students not to buy anything today unless it's on a reserve, as part of an attempt to impact the Canadian economy.
"It's to demonstrate our economic power, that we are the ones that pay the bills and we are the ones that fund this country," said Carl Balan, who is organizing the Idle No More protest at the U of W.
Winnipeg resident Rusty Hastings braved blizzard conditions on Friday to fuel up his truck in Headingley, at a gas bar owned by the Swan Lake First Nation.
"We're actually taking part [in] the Idle no More and we're not purchasing in the city — only on reserve land," he said.
The Idle No More movement, which began in November and quickly spread across the country through rallies and social media, stemmed from discontent among First Nations people over the federal government's general stance on indigenous rights.
The movement says, on its Facebook page, it wants to "stop the Harper government from passing more laws and legislation that will further erode treaty and indigenous rights and the rights of all Canadians."
The grassroots movement has taken issue specifically with omnibus Bill C-45, which they say erodes the rights of native people. They also argue there has been a lack of consultation on changes to environmental protection regulations.