Wednesday’s Idle No More demonstrations in downtown Sudbury attracted about 50 people — less than half of previous Idle No More events — but that’s not stopping some protestors from persisting with the cause.
"It's important for all Canadians to get involved and realize what is happening around us," said Ozzie Osawamick of the Wikemikong First Nation. "A lot of people aren't ready for that."
Osawamick held his 14-month-old daughter as he waved an Idle No More sign at the passing traffic.
"It’s important for my daughter, her children … We’re just … trying to live," he said. "What it boils down to is peace and harmony and living with one another in unity. We live in Canada and we’re all about loving and freedom, but in reality we don’t. We’re just trying to fight for water and life and unity."
No easy answers
The drum beats in Sudbury were echoed across the country Wednesday as highways, rail lines and border crossings were blocked during the protests denouncing federal legislation. Gatherings around the northeast were peaceful and did not result in significant traffic delays.
Much has been made in recent weeks about First Nations demands and have included high level meetings in Ottawa.
Sudbury resident Isabelle Winter said there are no easy answers, adding she's marching with the crowd because she's hopeful government and Aboriginal leaders will find a way to come together with the Prime Minister.
Visitor is from Moose Factory, but moved to Sudbury a couple of years ago with her teenaged daughter Winter.
"There are not as many opportunities for the youth," she said.
"On reserves there’s a lot of drugs, alcohol and no opportunity. In terms of … keeping the children doing activities that would keep them occupied … when you’re being idle, that’s when you get into all kinds of trouble."
'We're done with this era'
Suicide was so rampant in her community that she decided to got off the reserve because she was afraid she or her daughter would fall into the same fate.
"It’s not pretty, but life goes on … this is a real change and we need a change," she said, noting that she's frustrated the government is "still being idle."
"They’re not trying to hear us. One meeting is not enough, a thousand is not even going to be enough … we have to work together to make this change happen," she said.
"We’re done with this era … so that our people and our children will have a future. Our children deserve a cleaner, healthier world to live in."
"I pray to God … that our people … would come to an agreement," she said. "[An agreement in which]
they can work on something to get the process going."
Osawamick said he's preparing himself for a long battle.
"Racism … it goes deep," he said. "People have broken promises and broken dreams. They only kept one promise … to take our land … and they took it."
He acknowledged that he does get a treaty bonus, but pointed out that "it’s four dollars every three years, or something ridiculous like that."
"I’ve never collected it to this day," Osawamick said. "We’re not living off anybody’s tax dollars."