Idle No More protests aim to disrupt Boxing Day shoppers
Demonstrations set up in malls in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatchewan
First Nations protesters held a number of demonstrations across the country on Boxing Day, aiming to bring attention to changes to the federal Indian Act.
At West Edmonton Mall, hundreds of protestors mingled with shoppers. They played traditional music, while others joined hands and danced.
The protests, part of the Idle No More campaign, are in response to omnibus budget Bill C-45, which passed in the House of Commons earlier this month.
The legislation made changes to the way that reserve lands are managed. Protesters say the bill also weakened environmental protections for lakes and streams, greatly affecting aboriginal communities.
Demonstrators from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, east of Grande Prairie, Alta., also rallied Wednesday. The group put up two blockades across the highway between the town and the reserve. The blockade of Highway 43 has since been cleared.
RCMP Cpl. Shawn Morgan said police were ready in case the blockades caused long delays.
"Everyone has a right to peaceful, freedom of expression. ... However, we will be in attendance to maintain the peace."
In Regina and Saskatoon, Idle No More "flash mobs" materialized over the noon hour as participants did some drumming, singing and round dancing.
About 200 people participated at Saskatoon's Midtown Mall and while at Regina's Cornwall Centre, about 100 people were involved.
In Calgary, at least 100 people gathered in Marlborough Mall at a food court.