January 28, 2013 was marked around the world as an International Day of Solidarity with Idle No More, a movement sparked in November 2012 by First Nations women in Canada, in resistance to legislative threats to indigenous sovereignty. One particular piece of legislation which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promoting, Bill C-45, would nullify provisions of provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act which since 1882 has mandated consultation and approval by First Nations for projects that could affect waterways on indigenous territories. Bill C-45 would make it much easier for corporations to extract and transport extreme energy (such as tar sands oil) across waterways in traditional First Nations territories, without the consent of First Nations peoples. Since November, Idle No More has built incredible momentum, bringing together Indigenous Peoples and allies not only in Canada, but also throughout the U.S. and many other parts of the the world, to stand up for “Indigenous Sovereignty to protect water, air, land and all creation.” Rooted in a long and deep history of resistance to colonization, Idle No More uses nonviolent strategies such as circle dance flash mobs, simultaneously reflecting indigenous tradition and the creativity of youth to raise awareness and demonstrate collective power.
Idle No More has effectively built connections with other important sectors that have a common interest in land and water rights. Glenn Rait, national board member of the National Farmers Union of Canada (a member of Grassroots partner La Via Campesina), shared the following statement: “The NFU is proud to declare its solidarity with Idle No More, which is bringing people together from across Canada to stop the Harper government from riding roughshod over our collective rights. We want a better Canada.” Movements in Latin America, including Grassroots’ ally Otros Mundos in Mexico and Grassroots grantee the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador issued a statement of solidarity as well.
Grassroots International is honored to be part of the Climate Justice Alignment, which recently released this statement of solidarity with Idle No More:
We, members of Climate Justice Alignment, stand in solidarity with Idle No More!
We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Sovereignty and the rights of Indigenous communities to govern and defend their traditional lands, waters and natural resources for the health and wellbeing of present and future generations. As allied activists and grassroots organizations rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working class white communities, we support the grassroots leadership of all Indigenous nations opposing colonial governments and the corporate empires they serve. We honor the powerful ways that First Nations communities have survived centuries of colonial oppression and continue to stand tall in opposition to the harm of land and life. We honor our Indigenous sisters’ and brothers’ history of resistance to the Canadian government’s racist, exploitative and harmful policies and practices. Standing in solidarity with the Idle No More Movement, we recognize our common commitment to justice, including our resistance to the corporations driving today’s global ecological crisis through extreme energy and resource extraction industries, industrial agriculture, toxic pollution and waste, water privatization, trade liberalization and the commodification of all life. We recognize and respect the critical role of traditional Indigenous knowledge in the defense of Mother Earth, for building community resilience. Idle No More provides us all an opportunity to re-think social, political and economic relations to include environmental, spiritual, and communitarian values. Such values can guide our movements to overcome climate change, poverty, war and oppression, and help us build local living economies with community-led solutions. Our organizations shall stand by your side, seeking liberation for all our communities through common struggle – the struggle between colonial cultures of hoarding and traditional cultures of sharing; between globalized exploitation and localized democracy; between the shackles of the market and the web of life. Peace, Justice and Solidarity! Alliance for Appalachia, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Center for Social Inclusion, Center for Story-based Strategy, Citizens Environmental Coalition, Communities for a Better Environment, Community to Community Development, Cornell Global Labor Institute, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Energy Justice Network, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Global Justice Ecology Project, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Grassroots International, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Indigenous Environmental Network, Institute for Policy Studies, Just Transition Alliance, Jobs With Justice, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Labor Community Strategy Center, Labor Network for Sustainability, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, Movement Strategy Center, NAACP Environmental & Climate Justice Program, People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights, POWER, Right to the City Alliance, Rising Tide North America, Ruckus, Southwest Organizing Project, SouthWest Workers Union, 350.org, UPROSE, Vermont Workers’ Center, US Food Sovereignty Alliance Photo courtesy of Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas.