Idle No More protests have been taking place across the world. Photo: marygkosta, under a CC License.
The Idle No More movement is to make its voice heard in London as a petition, signed by British residents, is presented to the Canadian government at Canada House.
Clayton Thomas-Muller, from the Mathais Colomb Cree First Nation in Manitoba, will be joining activists from the UK Tar Sands Network at the protest on Thursday 17 January 2013.
The grassroots, indigenous-led Idle No More movement has swelled across North America since December 2012. Mass protests, road and rail blockades and hunger strikes have taken place and there has been a strong social media presence (#IdleNoMore). Support and action has also come from outside the continent, including from as far away as Australia.
Activists are demanding respect for the rights of indigenous people, the land they live on and the wider environment, as well as sustainable development.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, whose community has suffered pollution from the controversial tar sands industry upstream, has said he will blockade the main highway to the tar sands if demands are not met.
Thomas-Muller, who is from the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, said: ‘The reassertion of Aboriginal and Treaty rights are the last best hope to protect both First Nations’ and Canadians’ water, air and soil from being poisoned forever by big oil and mining corporations.’
The British petition, addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, mentions eight Bills that his government are working on, saying they ‘violate existing treaties and will have the effect of undermining and destroying First Nations’ rights, traditions and territories.’
It also makes reference to Bill C-45, which first sparked the Idle No More movement, because it has ‘significant implications for the ability of First Nations to control what happens on their traditional territories.’
Jess Worth, from the UK Tar Sands Network, said protesters were standing in solidarity with indigenous peoples in Canada who are ‘seeing their right to a healthy life in a clean environment on their traditional territories auctioned off to the highest corporate bidder.
‘As the Canadian tar sands industry seeks to squeeze every last drop of ever-more-polluting oil out of a planet that can no longer take it, we all have an interest in the success of the Idle No More movement which seeks to uphold First Nations’ rights and protect Mother Earth,’ she added.
A global day of action in support of Idle No More is planned on Monday 28 January. Organizers say it will ‘peacefully protest attacks on Democracy, Indigenous Sovereignty, Human Rights and Environmental Protections when Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons.’