Idle No More Protesters cross the Nipigon River Bridge on Jan. 16, 2013.
tan Beardy speaks to Idle No More protesters before they head out on their march.
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NIPIGON, Ont. -- Idle No More protesters say they’re marching for a better future for their children.
Hundreds crossed the Nipigon River Bridge to the Highway 11-17 junction Wednesday as part of the Idle No More day of action. OPP officers were on hand to close off the section of highway as the protesters made their way across the bridge.
The Red Rock First Nation band organized the event.
Many who spoke with tbnewswatch.com said they braved the bitter cold because they felt they had to stand up against the Conservative government and its controversial Bill C-45.
Cynthia Moonias bundled tightly for the march. She said this movement was important to her as it involved her treaty rights.
“Our lands, our rights, our children and our future are at stake,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like Idle No More before.”
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Sally Maystarr, from Pic River First Nation, marched because she believed the government was threatening the environment. It was important for her to march so that her First Nation rights aren’t violated, she said.
She wasn’t sure how much a social movement could impact the government’s decision-making but said she’ll keep fighting for her rights.
“This is good,” she said. “It’s important that the youth are also involved for their future. It is their future.”
Hanna Bear shared Maystarr’s opinion and wanted to march for her children, grandchildren and to save the environment.
Bill C-45 makes changes to a number of regulations and influences many other acts including the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
The bill will make changes to land management in First Nation communities, and remove thousands of lakes and streams from federal protection.
Bear also wanted to show support towards Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence who is continuing her fasting.
She believes that First Nation youth are fed up with the situation and helped to push the Idle No More movement forward.
“I think we should say something. We have a right to say something. I’m glad to see the youth out. Sometimes they need to know what’s going on. We need to educate them on what their rights are. I hope we get support from other people. This isn’t just about us but everyone.”
Pic River First Nation chief Roy Michano said they plan to continue this movement and planned to host a seminar in Marathon, Ont. to educate the public.
Michano had attended the large rally in Ottawa on Friday and was disappointed with all the squabbling. He said he attended to show his support for Spence and Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo.
“One of the big things we need to get going is talks between the province and the federal government and getting them together,” Michano said. “We got a lot of success with the provincial government. We’re here to protect the rights of our young people.”
Despite the large protest in Ottawa on Friday and the day of action, Michano wasn’t optimistic that it would be enough to create change. He said that could only happen when AFN sits down with both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Ontario regional chief Stan Beardy, who also attended the rally, said the situation has to be pretty bad if people come out to a march when it’s -15 C.
“When you start looking at the Conservative government pushing pieces of legislation without proper consultation, I think that’s what causes rallies like Idle No More,” Beardy said.
“When you start looking at those bills there was no hearings, no proper consultations, therefore it threatens not only First Nations but all of us.”
He said the bill destroys environmental assessment processes and makes it easier for international companies to extract from the lands. Foreign companies aren’t going to keep meet Canada’s environmental standards, he warned.
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