Idle No More call on Trudeau to keep promises on Indigenous, environmental issues
WARNING: This story contains graphic language
As many Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving, Idle No More demonstrators gathered in Yonge-Dundas Square on Monday said they have "little to be thankful for" and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his election promises to protect Indigenous rights and the environment.
Becky Big Canoe, co-founder of Water is Life: Coalition for Water Justice, said while Trudeau has vowed to support Indigenous people across the country, he's already reneging on some election promises.
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"He's backpedalling on things like child welfare equity, environmental protection, education. And we feel he's walking backwards in terms of continuing to make the playing field more for fossil fuels than for renewable energy," she told CBC News.
"All in all, I'm giving him a D [grade]," she added. "I hope he can improve on that."
Writer and activist Judy Rebick, who joined Monday's demonstration, said Trudeau needs to be held accountable.
"We have a prime minister who speaks very good words," Rebick told the crowd.
"He seems heartfelt... so we believed he was going to do what he said. But he's not doing what he said. We have another string of broken promises."
Indigenous Day of Action protestors move into the intersection of Yonge and Dundas. <a href="https://t.co/1Lal1ZVtbC">pic.twitter.com/1Lal1ZVtbC</a>—@MakdaGCBC
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Big Canoe said the current Liberal government has done little to reverse the environmental legislation of Stephen Harper's previous government that she sees as damaging.
"We've got little to be thankful for in terms of what's happening nationally in this country," she said.
"The previous government gutted legislation that protected lakes and rivers, waterways in Canada. And so far we haven't seen Trudeau make any moves towards restoring those protections," she added.
"Many First Nations communities live on or near bodies of water. Already they don't have good drinking water."
Although Canada officially adopted the UN declaration on rights of Indigenous Peoples in May, Rebick slammed the prime minister for not fully committing to it.
"They ran in this election saying they would sign it, they would implement it, and now suddenly it's too complicated. Where have we heard this bullshit before?" she asked the crowd.
"It's simple. Indigenous people have a veto over development on their land. They have to have consent," she added.
"What's complicated is [government officials] don't want to stand up to the extractive industries and tell them they can't continue to exploit oil and gas on Indigenous lands without consent. That's all they have to do as a government."