Not Plagiarized … Borrowed

By Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove

As promised, here are more words from others, expressing what in my view Idle No More offers to all of us.  Without it needing to be said, I think that this is a time that calls profoundly to all interested in justice and peace, particularly those whose orientation includes the religious.

Highlights in the text are mine.

The first is a comment from the Globe & Mail pointing to the communal nature of the First Nations voice:

To see so many allied people come forward and give support to the cause, to say, “yes, our community INCLUDES you, and your issues are my issues, we are all treaty people” is quite cathartic and moving.

Jan 11, 2013  Globe and Mail

“Voices From The Idle No More Movement”

Emily Claire Gallienne, Toronto


Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, not always on the right side of history in my opinion, has landed well this time, being a proponent of progressive change away from the colonial attitudes with which First Nations have been traditionally approached.  In 2004, near the end of his term as Prime Minister, he presented to Parliament an Agreement , dubbed the Kelowna Accord , that had been worked out with National Aboriginal leaders (unfortunately excluding Quebec bands) and provincial First Ministers in a process based on consultation and cooperation.   Its main proposals concerned education, housing,  health and economic development.   (See Phil Fontaine, former National Chief, in Wikipedia under Kelowna Accord).  It was scuttled by the Harper minority government, apparently over differences about how the money would be distributed and tracked.

Paul Martin made an important summary statement recently:

As the Right Honourable Paul Martin recently acknowledged, “We have never admitted to ourselves that we were, and still are, a colonial power.” Colonial power is violence against Indigenous bodies, minds, cultures and lands. I know that many of you don’t see it. 

Quoted Jan 12, 2013, The Toronto Star


Finally, the following excerpts, from an article e-published in Rabble, are written by Aaron James Mills from North Bay.  I wish I had the capacity to write in this manner.  For me his words are definitive of the heart and soul behind Idle No More.  Three dots indicate where I have lifted out particular passages (you can find the full article at the Rabble website).  Things have changed since this was published, but the message remains relevant.

An open letter to all my relations: On Idle No More, Chief Spence and non-violence

…All my relations, I said also that I feel ashamed. I am ashamed because my Prime Minister so profoundly misunderstands Indigenous Canada that he thinks meeting with Chief Spence will make him vulnerable. On this misunderstanding, he is willing to allow her to die less than a kilometre from his office. He fails to recognize the incredible opportunity given him to demonstrate great strength and leadership in respect of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canada. If ever Stephen Harper had a vision for our nation, now is a moment where it should shine. As he spends millions of tax dollars commemorating the War of 1812, the relationship that made our nation possible—which in 1814 secured our nation as a nation and not an American state—is a shambles. But Prime Minister Harper has no vision for Canada, and because of Idle No More, the whole world is watching its absence…

…I am also disappointed with the Right Honourable David Johnston, my Governor General, for having side-stepped his role in Canadian history by characterizing Chief Spence’s demand for dialogue as mere politics, and therefore for the exclusive consideration of elected governing officials. He understood very well that Chief Spence’s demands cut much deeper than mere politics; that they go right to the fundamental injustice of the Crown-Indigenous relationship, historic and contemporary. The Governor General hasn’t merely shown a lack of leadership; he has opted out of leadership altogether. I am a Canadian citizen and I am ashamed..

…. Finally, I am ashamed because no federal administration in my lifetime has done as much as this one to alienate Indigenous Canada. Before the Harper government adopted its position on Chief Spence it had already slashed health funding for Indigenous peoples; withheld documents from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the point that the Commission, as a result unsure whether it will be able to meet its mandate by its deadline and within its budget, has sought help from the Courts; emptied environmental review processes of meaningful content; unilaterally decided to terminate land claims negotiations in which its existing approach has failed; spent millions defending Canada’s systematic underfunding of First Nations schools and child welfare agencies, including spying on child welfare and education advocate Cindy Blackstock and other non-violent indigenous activists; announced its intention to introduce legislation that would allow for the privatization of reserve land, despite an AFN resolution in 2010 categorically rejecting such a development; ignored demands for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and accused First Nations leadership generally of corruption and mismanagement. Bill C-45, the catalyst for the Idle No More movement, follows all of these developments…

We are not stakeholders. We are not an interest group. We are treaty partners and but for our partnership there would be no Canada today. My relations are buried throughout this land you rightly call home. They lived and died here long before you knew your present home existed. It is not for you or your leaders to decide how a life should be lived for both of us. This is what we agreed to. When your leaders presume to decide how my life should be lived or what values I should have, they have given up representing my interests and they are no longer my leaders too. This is my belief and I will defend it. To the best of my understanding, this is what Idle No More is about. Indigenous Canada wants a just and respectful relationship with the state and with non-Indigenous Canadians, not one premised on unacknowledged and tacitly accepted continuing colonial violence. All my non-Indigenous relations, if you accept less than an end to colonial violence, have you not quietly accepted that Indigenous Canadians are worth less than you?….

The imperative for non-violence, whether manifest in resistance to ongoing colonial oppression or in the daily conduct of our relationships with one another, is a bedrock foundation necessary for making citizenship in Canada worth having….I am concerned that without your voice, its way may not be one of non-violence…Let us reject the violence that keeps us mired in the past, let the drum sound colonial power no more, and let us celebrate our differences so that we can come together.

Jan 10, 2013,, News For The Rest of Us

An open letter to all my relations: On Idle No More, Chief Spence and non-violence

Waabishki Ma’iingan, North Bay

Aaron James Mills


Of course, Comments are more than welcome!


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Filed under A Bigger Circle, Rosemary's entries

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