Over 800 attend Idle No More rally at Manitoba legislature

More than 800 Idle No More protesters took to the steps of Manitoba's legislative building on Monday as part of a national day of action.
Hundreds take part in Idle No More round dance outside Manitoba legislature as part of a global day of action. 1:19

More than 800 Idle No More protesters took to the steps of Manitoba's legislative building on Monday afternoon as part of a national day of action.

Buffy Sainte-Marie sang from the front steps of the legislative building as a large round-dance began at 5 p.m. The rally ended shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Among the demonstrators is a group of eight young people who had spent the last four days walking from Bloodvein First Nation to Winnipeg to participate in the protest.

The group walked 10 hours each day, stopping in a number of communities, to make a 320-kilometre journey.

Dwight Kennedy, 15, who organized the walk, said he wanted to do something for the national day of action.

"I wanted to do this to bring communities together and save our rights," said Kennedy.

The group marched down Highway 59 until they arrived at the provincial legislature.

Targeted by some motorists

They were joined near St. Andrews by protesters who were walking from Hollow Water First Nation and Little Black River First Nation.

The group received many honks and yells of support, but at one point were targeted by some motorists.

The group of young protestors — some children as young as five years old — were pelted with pennies by at least one vehicle full of people.

"All we ask is for a little bit of respect," said Kayla Hardisty, who walked from Hollow Water First Nation.

"It's not right," she said. "This society is supposed to be against racism and bullying."

Carmelita Fontaine, who walked from Little Black River First Nation, said she hopes to counter negativity by talking to people about the movement.

"We are staying focused on what we need to do," said Fontaine. "We just kind of have to be numb to the negativity that comes our way."

Fontaine said education is critical to the movement. She brought her two small children — one aged five and the other aged 12 — with her on the walk to show them the importance of the movement.

She added that it is their future she is trying to protect.

Protests sprout up across Canada

In Ottawa, protesters flooded Parliament Hill despite heavy snow in the area. The Idle No More movement is trying to keep pressure on the federal Conservatives to make changes to their two omnibus budget bills.

Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan said there is no way the government will back down on the group’s demand that it make changes to environmental oversight in the bills.