Jim Chicago speaks at an Idle No More rally on Jan. 7, 2013.
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THUNDER BAY -- Some Idle No More protesters aren’t confident their issues will be resolved when First Nation representatives meet with the Prime Minister Friday.
More than a hundred supporters of the national grassroots movement attended a rally at Lakehead University Monday. Many gathered and listened as speakers forwarded information about what the Idle No More protest was about.
The central messages revolved around legislation protesters believe is harming the lands for both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals.
That issue, along with a variety of treaty-related topics, are expected to be discussed when First Nation representatives meet with Stephen Harper this week.
Harper, in a statement, agreed to meet 20 or so delegates, including Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence.
The chief of the remote fly-in First Nation community became the media's centrepiece for the Idle No More movement after she declared she would adopt a diet consisting mainly of fish broth and fasting until she had the meeting with the prime minister.
Some protesters at the rally at Lakehead who spoke to tbnewswatch.com said they were skeptical that the meeting would have a significant impact.
Mynra Kaminawaish and her husband, Glenn, both attended Monday's rally. Both believe that all First Nation elected officials should attend the meeting since it concerns all Aboriginal issues.
“They all need to be there not two, five or eight,” Kaminawaish said.
“With this movement going on it is not just about our Aboriginal rights but also protecting mother Earth. We all need to get onboard. I’m ready for change. We’re not being treated fairly. Out land is being destroyed.”
She also added it’s time for First Nation leaders to wake up so that they can better represent Aboriginals.
Glenn said the meeting will be a step in the right direction if there is proper representation and wondered what chiefs would be invited to attend.
“They should have all the chiefs involved,” he said. “We’re trying to get unity. It’s shouldn’t be just 20. It should be 600 chiefs.”
Raymond Moonias remained a bit more optimistic.
He also attended the rally in order to get more information as well as encourage others to learn more about the issues. He said everyone has to work together in order to make a better world and country.
Moonias said he hopes issues are looked at thoroughly when the meeting takes place and that everyone’s voice gets heard.
“If they can just hold off on development for two years it is not going to affect too much as compared to 300 years,” he said.
Joyce Hunter, who helped organize the event at Lakehead, said the meeting doesn’t change anything and she remains cautiously optimistic. She wasn’t sure if Harper was only meeting First Nations to appease people or actually make a sincere attempt to create change.
She also called legislation like Bill C-45 unconstitutional because it wasn’t discussed with First Nation people. She said the Idle No More movement has no intention of stopping.
“There are human rights abuses going on and Canadians are getting striped of their access to clean drinking water and a good future going forward,” she said.
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