About 300 people gathered in the bowl at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon Monday afternoon as part of an Idle No More global day of action.
Similar Idle No More events were held in Regina, Prince Albert and La Ronge to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation.
Rob Innes, who teaches in the Department of Native Studies at the U of S, says although Idle No More has been a bit quieter over recent months, the movement is alive and well.
“It’s gone underground, not underground but quieter stuff has happened but I think in the next few weeks we will probably see a lot more public events like this and to raise awareness,” he says.
Darwin Gardypie, a Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation member and one of the organizers of the event, says since Idle No More is a grassroots movement, it is difficult to tell where things will go from here but the organization remains strong.
“If you want to make an analogy, this is akin to the civil rights movement in the United States, when Dr. Martin Luther King mobilized the country,” he says.
The Saskatoon rally was a student led initiative.
In the Regina area, members of the National Treaty Alliance marked the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation in Fort Qu’Appelle Monday afternoon.
It was not a day of celebration but rather of prayers and hope for a better future.
Sakimay First Nation Chief Lynn Acoose says it is a time for healing.
“We’re going to be asking the Creator and the grandfathers, grandmothers, to help us in healing our relationships among ourselves, healing our relationships with our treaty partners, with the Crown,” she says.
Rita Merrick, a member of the Pasqua First Nation, is a young Aboriginal woman who has a renewed pride in her roots and a commitment to the generations that come after her.
“This day should be an awakening to heal ourselves, to heal one another,” she says. “So that we can restore that relationship that our ancestors signed on for us, it’s our responsibility and we’ve got to take that forward.”
George Munro from the Northern Whitebear First Nation in Manitoba adds the Royal Proclamation marked the beginning of 250 years of abuse of resources, land, animals and First Nations people.
“The government of this country is in dishonour,” he says. “All we want is a playing field that we can all work together, we’re not asking for anything special.”
Members of the National Treaty Alliance say the Royal Proclamation marks the beginning of generations of broken promises.
The organization was formed about six years ago and it’s objective is to speak with one voice on nation-to-nation treaty implementation.