Activists vow new Idle No More protests
A rail blockade ended on Friday after a court-ordered injunction
Mi'kmaq activists say there will be more "Idle No More" protests in New Brunswick despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pledge to hold a meeting with the Assembly of First Nations later this week.
Amy Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation helped organize a blockade of the Canadian National Rail tracks between Moncton and Miramichi late last week.
The rail blockade ended Friday night when CN won a court injunction, but Sock said she's already planning new protests for the coming week.
The blockade was in support for Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, who is on her fourth week subsisting only on tea and fish broth.
The Ontario Cree chief has been on a hunger strike since early December to back her demand the prime minister meet with First Nation leaders.
Harper announced on Friday he would meet with aboriginal leaders, including Spence, on Jan. 11.
However, Sock said Harper's scheduled meeting with aboriginal leaders selected by the AFN is not enough.
"If they're going to meet just with Indian Act chiefs, you know, I'm not really too impressed with that," she said.
Sock, as well as other Idle No More activists, said band chiefs elected under federal legislation lack legitimacy.
Ottawa will deal with AFN
Norman Spector, who was prime minister Brian Mulroney’s chief of staff during the Oka crisis and constitutional negotiations with aboriginal leaders, said Sock’s view presents a challenge for the federal government.
He said the federal government has no choice but to deal with elected chiefs rather than grassroots activists.
"The wise government is going to deal with the AFN, and over time, if that process is successful, some of the more extreme elements will be delegitimized, will have less support," Spector said.
But Sock said a process that doesn't include activists won't be widely accepted and won't contribute to long-term solutions.
"We vowed that we will not stop, regardless of the Jan. 11 meeting, regardless of the Jan. 24 meeting, unless some of kind of resolution has been reached that everybody is comfortable with," she said.
Sock said she and others may return to Adamsville, north of Moncton, where they set up on Friday.
She said that is the location of a traditional Mi'kmaq trading post. However, if they return, they have no plans to block the CN line this time.
The Idle No More movement started about two months ago. The movement’s mission statement reads, "Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfils Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water."