Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government Friday as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be “idle no more.”
More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario’s troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.
“We are tired of having the boot put to our head,” Algonquin Chief Gilbert Whiteduck told the gathering beneath the Peace Tower under a steady barrage of snow.
“We want the government of Canada to come to the table in a spirit of unconditional openness and transparency.”
Other rallies were held in various cities across the country. Demonstrations in support of Spence’s cause also took place in the United States.
Hundred of people briefly blocked one of the busiest intersections in Toronto in solidarity with Idle No More, a grassroots aboriginal protest movement gaining traction on social media. Several Manitoba First Nations groups also rallied at the Winnipeg International Airport, congesting traffic.
Idle No More organizers oppose the Harper government’s recently passed omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, and accuse the Tories of trampling on treaty rights.