First Nations Activists Plan Protests to Pressurize Federal Government

The advocates of First Nations and Idle No More supporters are prepared to prolong the pressure on federal Conservatives by planning street protests, at a critical time, when MPs convene at the House of Commons after a six-week break. Additionally, protests are also being held across Canada by supporters of Idle No More movement, who strictly oppose Stephen Harper’s changes to environmental oversight and urging action on native rights.

The protestors are planning to fill up the Parliament Hill with campaigners, dancers and a long list of speakers. At the same time, NDP critic Romeo Saganash is anticipated to present a private member’s bill asking all federal legislation to be in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Saganash reportedly mentioned in a press statement that “the prime minister still hasn’t honoured his commitments from last year to restore a respectful dialogue with First Nations.” He added that “by harmonizing federal laws with the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights, he would be taking an important step towards reconciliation.” So far the Conservatives have welcomed the declaration, though they only regard it as a non-binding “aspirational” document which will not impact on Canadian legislation.

On the other hand, the representatives of the Assembly of First Nations are in dialogue with government officials to pursue on the agreed topics at the meetings of Harper and National Chief Shawn Atleo. Conservative House Leader, Peter Van Loan, alleged that the process is “off to a good start.”

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