Aboriginal youth weigh in on Idle No More movement

What do young aboriginals think about the Idle No More movement? Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray talked to two local university students about the campaign.
Members of the Treaty 7 First Nations stage an Idle No More protest on 16th Avenue N.W. in Calgary. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Idle No More demonstrators gathered in Calgary today at the University of Calgary and in front of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's constituency office to bring attention to the First Nations protest sweeping across Canada. 

The protests came as the meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders began in Ottawa.

But what do young aboriginals think about the Idle No More movement?

Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray talked to two local university students about the campaign.

"There is so much passion, and it's not just about these bills but it's also about our culture," said Chantal Chagnon, a non-status member of the Muskeg Lakes First Nation and Idle No More organizer.

"It's a rise up of our culture and youth are really starting to uncover their roots with this development and it's incredibly inspiring."

Michael Smith, a Métis member of the Campus Conservative Association at the University of Calgary, said the movement started as a political discussion.

"There was a variety of different thoughts towards Bill C-45, certainly I have a different perspective on it than some of the movement organizers," he said.

"What concerns me about the movement now is that it is a politically-motivated movement, but at the same time I'm not completely understanding what the overall message is."

Smith said at the start it was about a handful of people who had some very distinct opinions about what C-45 meant, and now the movement has grown into an expression of culture.

"Which is a great thing, but I think we need to look at it as such — is that it's an expression of the native culture and not really anymore a specific, constructed argument against C-45."

Chagnon said they have had several teach-ins about the omnibus C-45 bill, and how it will affect First Nations people.

"What bill C-45 really did is it started to mess with treaty rights, it started to mess with things on reserve, with the Navigable Waters Act — basically with our very rights as aboriginal people both on and off reserve, and that really stirred the pot," she said. 

The pair disagreed about how the changes to the Navigable Water Protection Act would affect First Nations people, but wanted people to be informed about what the government is actually doing.

  • For more on the debate with Chagnon and Smith, click on the "Listen" button above.