Quebec Idle No More protests to ramp up today
Aboriginal communities in Quebec are planning various protests across the province, as a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Assembly of First Nations chiefs is expected to take place today in Ottawa.
In Montreal, a protest is planned for this afternoon near the Palais des Congrès.
Pressure tactics and protests are also planned by members of the Listuguj community in the Gaspé region and in Uashat, an Innu community near Sept-Îles.
Questions over who will attend today's meeting in Ottawa — and new demands about where it should be held — created confusion yesterday.
Chiefs gathered at a meeting at the Delta hotel in Ottawa on Thursday evening, with some saying they will not attend because Governor General David Johnston will not be there.
The chief of the Quebec Listuguj Mi'Kmaq community, Dean Vicaire, said First Nations leaders across Canada will remain united, even if some leaders decide to boycott today's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Vicaire is in Ottawa to take part in today's summit. He said he was honoured to be named by other Mi'Kmaq chiefs to represent their Nation at the meeting.
Non-native communities lend support
Individuals from non-native communities have also been showing support for the Idle No More movement.
President of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Michèle Audette, said they have received support from Amnesty International and major unions across Canada.
Melissa Mollen Dupuis, co-founder of Montreal's Idle No More branch, said Quebec's native communities supported students during their protests against tuition hikes last year.
And now students are now returning the favour, according to Dupuis.
"We're having so many people on this day coming to say this is unjust and this government is not listening to the people."
Background: Idle No More
The Idle No More movement, which began in November and quickly spread across the country, stemmed from discontent among First Nation's people towards the federal government's general stance on indigenous rights and, more specifically, omnibus Bill C-45. Groups have expressed concern that the bill erodes the rights of native peoples and have been angered by what they say is a lack of consultation on changes to environmental protection regulations.
The grassroots movement gained a serious following and significant media attention through rallies, teach-ins, and social media. The hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has also drawn support to the cause.
The Facebook page of the movement says it wants to "stop the Harper government from passing more laws and legislation that will further erode treaty and indigenous rights and the rights of all Canadians."