Local First Nations leaders and community members gathered Friday in Kitchener to show solidarity with other Idle No More demonstrations across the country.
At the speaker’s corner at King and Frederick Streets, First Nations members led a drum circle at noon while about 30 people looked on. “[People] want to know what our people are fighting for,” a speaker told the assembled crowd.
“We decided last Friday we were going to do this today,” said Miigizi Miigwan Kwe, a student who organized the demonstration via social media. “It turned out better than we hoped for.”
Demonstrations tok place across Canada Friday, including a massive protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The movement was sparked after Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation began a hunger strike, calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address the housing crisis facing her community.
Miigwan Kwe is in the middle of her own 24-hour hunger strike in support of Chief Spence. “We spent the night in front of city hall,” she said. While she is feeling a sharpened effect from the cold, Miigwan Kwe takes it as an opportunity to educate people outside of the First Nations community. “We had a bit of ignorance last night with people yelling profanities from cars…if we can get out and tell people what’s going on maybe they’ll listen.”
“I came here because I was curious,” said Ginny Pecjak, a fifth-year anthropology and sociology major at Wilfird Laurier. “There’s not much in the media or news about the true issues and how it’s impacting the aboriginal community.”
Another issue facing the Idle No More movement is Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill that would get rid of federal protections on waterways and allow the sale of reservation lands with consulting First Nations. The group demands that the government honour Indigenous sovereignty.
The demonstration continued at 2 p.m. with a drum circle outside Kitchener City Hall. Drum circles took place at the same time across the nation.
This story originally appeared on The Cord Community Edition‘s website, community.thecord.ca.