Penticton is invited to take part in a nationwide protest rally Friday afternoon in support of the Idle No More movement that is sweeping across Canada.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who will be speaking at the rally, said the protest arose out of a conversation with a small group of Aboriginal women and a group of non-native women on the Prairies, reacting to Bill C-45, an omnibus bill of more than 400 pages that is making its way through the Senate.
“Like most Canadians, they felt this was very disrespectful of our democratic values and ideals. These omnibus bills have and will have an enormous impact on the lives of Canadians,” said Phillip.
Another spark for the protest is Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is now in the second week of her hunger strike, trying to get a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Over a year ago, Attawapiskat declared an emergency for lack of housing, reaching out to the international Red Cross for support.
Phillip explained that the federal government’s reaction to the Attawapiskat situation is typical of the eroding relationship between the federal government and Aboriginal peoples.
“Quite frankly, the grassroots people are enduring crushing poverty on a daily basis. Aboriginal Canadians feel a deep sense of betrayal on the part of the Harper government,” he said, adding that the movement has grown beyond the Aboriginal community.
“Idle No More is not an aboriginal movement solely. It’s a movement that is attracting Canadians from all walks of life who are similarly fed up with the contempt that the Harper government has for the democratic values of this country and the parliamentary process,” he said. “There is a coalescing of different groups and organizations across this country like never before.”
The Heartbeat across Turtle Island rally gets underway in Gyro Park at 10 a.m., with a march to the office of Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas at 11 and a flash mob with drumming and singing in Cherry Lane shopping centre at noon.