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Discussion forum helps put Idle No More in context

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By Paula E. Kirman Sweetgrass Writer LEDUC







Those who stay up-to-date with current events in Canada have heard of Idle No More, but at the same time, may not know how the movement arose and how it impacts society.

The Edmonton-Leduc NDP Riding Association helped address these questions in a recent discussion forum held in Edmonton.
“Understanding Idle No More: what does it mean for us?”
attempted to put Idle No More into context through discussion of the actions and struggles of Aboriginal peoples for rights and sovereignty throughout history and how anyone interested in these concerns can help contribute.

 “The intention was to invite some opinions and stimulate discussion on the whole issue of what is Idle No More and what does it mean to us in Edmonton-Leduc,” said Jim Graves, with the Edmonton-Leduc NDP Riding Association and who moderated the discussion. Although the event was sponsored by the NDP, it was open to anyone who wished to take part.

Elder Taz Bouchier, who is well known as part of Idle No More in Edmonton, was a last-minute addition to the speakers list.

“We are the land keepers and water keepers. We look at that as a sacred responsibility and that is one of the reasons Idle No More came to be – when we understood that land and water was being affected and devastated in unbelievable ways,” she said.

A full room consisting of mostly non-Aboriginals from various cultures and countries of origin took turns describing their encounters with Aboriginal culture and their understanding of Idle No More. Several expressed interest in knowing more about what they can do to get involved and show support.

Coleen Braun, a non-Aboriginal woman who has worked as a teacher in reserve schools at Cadotte Lake and Hobbema, emphasized the need for this kind of discussion to happen.
“I find an awful lot of policies are made from the top down, people who have letters behind their names, but the people who are really needing the information, they are hardly ever asked,” she said. “This certainly goes for our Aboriginals too. I think a lot of policies have been made for them over the years and who ever asked them what they really need?”

Braun stressed that many non-Aboriginals she knows have never met a Native person and know very little about them. “Too often it is the Natives of the land who are not given enough credit. We shove them aside and we tell them how to do things. I think the Idle No More movement is a very good thing.”

Lewis Cardinal, a Cree politician and consultant, gave an overview of the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada leading up to Idle No More. Métis speaker and politician Muriel Stanley-Venne, known for her work with the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, was also a speaker.

The Edmonton-Leduc NDP Riding Association holds discussion forums regularly on a variety of current events.