Idle No More rallies were held Friday across Canada, including in the territories.
The grassroots movement takes aim at the federal government’s handling of First Nations treaty rights and supports Attawapiskat Chief Teresa Spence, who is on day 11 of a hunger strike. She’s demanding the prime minister meet with First Nation leaders.
In Yellowknife, more than 200 people joined a march that began at the Dene Nation office and culminated in a traditional tea dance at a downtown intersection.
Melaw Nakehk’o organized part of the Yellowknife event.
“We had a beautiful fire feeding ceremony this morning,” she said. “The kids in Ndilo school came out and prayed with us as the sun was coming out.”
In Iqaluit, 30 demonstrators broke out into a drum dance at the airport just after noon. They sang an ayaya song about hope and attracted the attention of holiday travellers.
Lakuluuluk Williamson-Bathory, one of the organizers of the Iqaluit event, said the federal government needs to live up to its side of treaties and land claim agreements.
She said she was happy with the support for the event.
“It’s a great turnout,” she said. “Lots of people who wanted to sing, who wanted to dance, who wanted to drum who wanted to hold signs. For Iqaluit, where it’s a small place and not many public spaces to be in together, I think it’s fantastic.”
The flash mob was organized through Facebook and Twitter like many Idle No More events across the country.
People gather at an Idle No More rally at the Elijah Smith building in Whitehorse on Friday. (David Croft/CBC)
In Whitehorse, more than 100 people crowded in the lobby of the federal building. Most were First Nations and many were young.
There was only one short speech. Sylvester Jack Jr. asked Yukoners if the federal and territorial governments are standing up for what they want.
“And I ask everyone to have a true look and be honest with yourself,” Jack said. “Is your government representing us, and the second question I ask you, do you support what our government is doing to us?”
Dustin Wilkinson, 19, said he believes it’s time to step up to protect the environment.
“I feel like I should be part of it, and I feel like should be getting my voice to everybody, because it’s not only us that’s getting affected, it’s everybody around the world,” he said.
On Thursday, Idle No More organizers in Meander River, Alta., just south of the N.W.T. border, blocked traffic heading south on the Mackenzie Highway.
“It was great, actually,” said Sidney Chambaud, one of the organizers. “We stopped traffic. We used the local fire truck with the emergency lights on and then we had some barricades up on both the south and north lanes of the highway.”
Chambaud said protesters blocked off the southbound lane for about an hour creating a kilometre-long lineup of traffic.