The Grand Chief of the Dehcho First Nations in the Northwest Territories is calling for a meeting of First Ministers with the Prime Minister.

Herb Norwegian said that would ensure all leaders – federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal – have a say.

The call comes after Stephen Harper agreed to meet with a group of First Nations leaders from across the country, including hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat.

Herb Norwegian said a First Ministers’ meeting would be similar to one held when the Canadian constitution was patriated in 1982.

Norwegian said that’s the only way this country will solve problems surrounding treaty rights and land claim agreements.

"This is something far beyond any little regional government dealing. This is a national problem that needs to be dealt [with]. And you need to be dealing with it at a First Nations and First Ministers kind of conference," said Norwegian.


About 150 people from around the N.W.T. took part in the Idle No More demonstrations at the Deh Cho Bridge near Fort Providence on Saturday. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

Norwegian added that if a meeting like this doesn’t happen, the government won't stand by its agreements.

The Prime Minister plans to meet with First Nations leaders this Friday.

Idle No More effective way to protest, says professor

The call from Norwegian comes after a weekend blockade of the Deh Cho Bridge near Fort Providence, N.W.T.

About 100 people took part in the Idle No More protest on Saturday. People came from across the territory, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to show support for the movement.

The bridge was blocked for about 40 minutes, and at the time traffic was light, so it was not severely disrupted.

The Deh Cho Bridge demonstration was one of many held over the weekend. Bridges, highways and railways have been blockaded in the name of the movement.

But some are asking questions about whether it’s an effective way for protesters to get their message out. Budd Hall, a professor of social movements at the University of Victoria, says yes.

"If you’re able to get the objective without the blockades or without stopping traffic - fine. But if one is not able to - the 20th century is full of movements like Gandhi movements like Martin Luther King. We know that it works," said Hall.

Hall calls the Idle No More movement inclusive, and said activities such as round dances and flash mobs catch the attention of non-aboriginal people.

Hall also credits Idle No More’s enormous social media presence for drawing people in from all cultures.