Idle No More protests hit Calgary and southern Alberta
Roads will be blocked Friday as part of national campaign
First Nations groups in Calgary and southern Alberta participated in the national protest campaign known as Idle No More that is sweeping the country.
The campaign is aimed at drawing attention to the relationship between the federal government and Canada's aboriginal people who are becoming increasingly frustrated, according to Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo.
"Frustrated with a lack of consultation on treaty problems and seemingly unilateral federal government decisions on natural resources and the environment, indigenous peoples are suddenly saying they will no longer sit idly by while these things are being pushed through," wrote video journalist and writer Waubgeshig Rice.
In Calgary, Treaty 7 protestors peacefully marched along 16th Avenue N.W. between Edmonton Trail and 14th Street at noon on Friday.
About 50 people gathered outside the Siksika office to chant, drum and carry signs.
The protestors say they should have been consulted before the Harper government went ahead with legislation they say affects reserve land and protected waterways.
"This is our water, our land, our resources," said Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes. "We are entitled to have access to them in a good way. We are also responsible to take care of them. It's our responsibility to take care of Mother Earth."
The demonstration did not affect traffic. Organizers are planning to hold a flashmob at TD Square downtown Saturday at 3 p.m. MT.
Protest happening near Siksika Nation
Evans Yellow Old Woman is organizing protests with the Siksika Nation in southeast Alberta.
"There's a lot of people out there that don't realize what is going on. There's a lot of apathy, it’s what we're fighting against. And just, getting the message out there and educating people on what is actually happening."
Members of the Siksika Nation marched along highways 547 and 901 on Friday as part of the national movement.
Yellow Old Woman says they know the traffic disruptions will be annoying for drivers.
"The First Nations have met every form of dialogue with the Canadian government and nothing has worked. Our first resource is not blockades and protests and everything. It's just, this is what it's come to. And so I'm sure there'll be tons of angry motorists, but we need to get out message out there."
He said they are not asking for "anything special," they just want consultation with the federal government.
"It's amazing how the Idle No More movement has grown nationally, as well as our brothers and sisters in the United States," said Yellow Old Woman. "Yesterday there was a rally in the Ukraine, and Egypt, Norway, the United Kingdom, all over the U.S. — L.A. and San Francisco — and all across Canada, so the movement has really exploded."
Blockade set up near Blood reserve
The Blood reserve in southern Alberta planned to block the entrance to Highway 2 from north of Cardston, Alta., to the reserve from noon to 4 p.m.
Protesters are handing out pamphlets to drivers passing by that explain the changes to federal law that they claim take away their rights.
Organizer William Singer says it's about raising awareness.
"It's got a lot to do with our treaty rights and that we need to maintain them [so] they are not broken, so hopefully our chiefs can have a sit down with Harper and discuss this," he said.
The traffic is then diverted onto nearby service roads that run beside the highway before they can continue on their way.
CBC reporter Colleen Underwood is on the scene and said drivers seem to be in good spirits. Many say they were not aware of the Idle No More concerns and didn't find the detour that incovenient.
CBC Radio One and CBC Television in Calgary will provide updates on all of the southern Alberta protests throughout Friday.