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Idle No More Okanagan heads for the border

Despite cold weather and snow, about 85 people, including Nancy Falkus-Overton and Muriel
Despite cold weather and snow, about 85 people, including Nancy Falkus-Overton and Muriel 'Ducky' Tanner of the Osoyoos Indian Band, gathered Saturday to take part in an Idle No More gathering at the Osoyoos border crossing, offering prayers and drumming.
— image credit: Linda Anderson photo

Western News Staff

Following up on their successful rally on Dec. 21, the Idle No More organizers in the Okanagan Valley are planning another event, this time at the Canada/U.S. border.

The next event is to be a peaceful one, a Gathering of Drums on Jan. 5 at the Osoyoos border crossing. Organizers are careful to stress that this is a prayer session and not a call for action, protest or political demonstration.

Organized through social media, protests have been taking place across Canada in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike in Ottawa for 24 days, demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Harper and the Queen on aboriginal rights.

In particular, Idle No More supporters are concerned about omnibus Bill C-45, which they say weakens environmental protection laws and rewrites parts of the Indian Act.

There is no intention to block the borders, but rather to create a peaceful event with the cooperation of the Superintendent of Canada Customs, Michael Cacconie, the RCMP and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. Cacconie, and Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band are both expected to attend.

“We do not want to be involved in any actions that will cause undue hardships for the Okanagan people and ask that attendees also do not cause undue hardships to the Okanagan people or the peaceful border relations the Okanagan people have,” reads the call for participants issued by Idle No More Okanagan. They go on to list that there will be no stopping traffic, no disturbing of the peace, no disruption of the general public, no speeches, no signs, and no politicking.

The rally has been cleared to be on certain areas of the Canada Customs property, which will be marked off with red tape prior to the start of the event, which gets underway at 12:30 p.m., with the drumming and singing starting at 1 p.m.

Like the Dec. 21 event, this one is being synchronized with events at border crossings across the country. This is expected to be an international event, with members of Okanagan nations on both sides of the border attending.

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