March and round dance mark 5-year anniversary of Idle No More in Toronto
Event aimed at ensuring 'our momentum continues,' says speaker
It's been five years since Idle No More began, but a march and a round dance Thursday shows the movement is still alive in Toronto.
Round dance participant Suzanne Smoke said awareness around Indigenous issues has continued to grow and conversations are beginning to change.
"That's the role of Idle No More — to raise awareness," she said.
"We got everyone's attention and now everybody thinks that we just sat back. For the last five years all of us have been educators."
Smoke stopped to join in the round dance at Dundas Square while out with Biindigen Healing and Art, a local not-for-profit organization, delivering "Nishmas" hampers of food and Christmas gifts to Indigenous families in the area.
About 150 people had gathered for the round dance.
"The round dance is a show of unity and friendship among the nations and all of us coming together and it's all the sacred colours of man coming together as well," said Smoke.
Non-Indigenous people also joined in the march and round dance.
"I learned about the treaties and I realized that much of Canada hasn't been honouring our side of the treaty relations, so I'm here trying to repair my relations with the Indigenous people and the land," said Taylor Flook, whose parents came from England.
Earlier, a rally was held outside the Department of Indigenous Services Canada (formerly Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) office at Yonge and St. Clair, bringing together members of Idle No More Ontario and Toronto at the site of the Not One More Indigenous Child vigil in honour of Indigenous youth.
The vigil has been taking place since July 20 to raise awareness about the Indigenous youth suicide crisis in Canada.
Quinn Meawasige, one of the Indigenous youth who spoke at the vigil, said Thursday's event was aimed at ensuring "that our momentum continues, to ensure that these issues aren't lost."
Meawasige called for action and raising awareness about Indigenous youth suicides.
"This is a direct result of colonialism and the government and their policies and legislation that they designed, the system that they designed to have us eliminated," he said at the rally.
The number of people that showed up to the event was important, he said.
"I wish that we could be doing more, but I just feel it's very important that the resistance of our ancestors won't die with us."