New Brunswick

Idle No More protesters take to streets in New Brunswick

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Miramichi, Fredericton, and Rexton on Wednesday as part of the Idle No More movement's national day of action.

Demonstrations held in Miramichi, Fredericton and Rexton

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Miramichi, Fredericton, and Rexton on Wednesday as part of the Idle No More movement's national day of action.

The demonstrators, many of them from First Nations communities across New Brunswick, held up traffic as they chanted, beat drums and waved signs.

In Miramichi, up to 300 people gathered in the Wal-Mart parking lot and marched across the Centennial Bridge, along a major highway, with an RCMP escort.

Officers blocked off the bridge from both directions as the protesters marched, snarling traffic for about two-and-a-half hours.

In Fredericton, dozens gathered at St. Mary's First Nation and marched across the Westmorland Street bridge in the city's downtown.

"We did the walk today across the Wolastoq River, which is our territory," said Doreen Saulis, a band member of the Tobique First Nation.

"And we are honouring what our ancestors entered into with the Crown through the treaties in the 1600s and 1700s. So we are protecting those rights for our ancestors, but also for the generations to come," she said.

The group held up traffic for more than 45 minutes, but many of the motorists CBC News spoke to didn't seem to mind the delay.

"I think what they're doing is a good thing, so," said one woman.

The Idle No More movement is fighting to have federal omnibus budget Bill C-45 struck down.

Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence has been on a liquid diet since Dec. 11, waiting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to meet with aboriginal leaders to discuss "treaty issues."

"I do believe Idle No More has brought attention to the issues and it's much needed," said Jan Rouse, of the St. Mary's First Nation.

St. Mary's Chief Candice Paul agrees. "Definitely, we have a lot of people who are supporting us and we're going to continue on this."

Letter presented to lieutenant governor

The march ended at the Old Government House, where Paul presented a letter to Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas in the hopes it will find its way to the prime minister.

Nicholas, who is the first aboriginal person to hold the position of lieutenant-governor, declined to make a political statement on the Idle No More movement, but said he would pass along the demonstrators' message.

"The relationship between First Nations and Her Majesty and the Crown, there are historical connections here and I just happen to be the position in New Brunswick who is aboriginal at this time, so I thought it was appropriate that I come out," he said.

"And that's what I'm doing, I'm making those contacts so that levels of government will get the message from the people."

The national day of action saw demonstrators take to the streets at border crossings, bridges and railways. Other activities includes rallies and prayer circles.

The grassroots movement says it wants to 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."

Its mission statement reads, "Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfils Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water."