Idle No More – it’s really all about love

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Aboriginal Peoples, Act Locally, Environment, Human Rights, Nibbling on The Empire, Winnipeg
Tags: , , ,
Jo Seenie Redsky: "we’re your last resort." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Jo Seenie Redsky: “We’re your last resort.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

If your only source of information is the mainstream news media you can be forgiven for wondering what the Idle No More movement is all about. Since it burst on the scene late last year, media attention has darted from demonstrations to blockades to the fasts of elders and chiefs — with an occasional sustained flurry of excitement when the PMO tried to smear Chief Theresa Spence.

Discussions of the abrogation of historic treaty rights or the corporate pillaging Stephen Harper has buried, like poisonous turds, in his omnibus budget bills, do not lend themselves to the tidy sound bites that nourish the media and feed the news cycle.

Having spent last Sunday afternoon at a panel discussion sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg and Project Peacemakers, I can assure you that Idle No More is about nearly everything that is wrong with our society, but fundamentally it is about love. Love of family, friends, complete strangers, future generations, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth we walk on.

Feb. 24, 2013: Jerry Daniels speaking about Idle No More in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Jerry Daniels: ” The issue is sustainable development.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More is inclusive and green. As panelist Jerry Daniels puts it, “A sustainable future is important to not only aboriginal people, it is important to all of us . . . the issue is sustainable development – sustainable futures for our children.” For Leah Gazan, “it’s not just about indigenous people of Canada any more, it’s about all of us. It’s about all of us sharing this land in a really good way.”

Idle No More is about redressing the damage we have done to ourselves and the environment, and preventing more of the same. Chickadee Richard sums it up in as tidy a sound bite as you could find anywhere: “As you heal, you heal Mother Earth.”

Chickadee Richard, Feb. 24, 2013

Chickadee Richard: “As you heal, you heal Mother Earth.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Michael Champagne: "An injustice to one is an injustice to all." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Michael Champagne: “An injustice to one is an injustice to all.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More is about aboriginal youth, says Michael Champagne, but about aboriginal youth unlike those of previous generations: “not only are we educated in Western institutions . . . , we are also educated by the Chickadees of the world, by our elders and our ancestors and our community and we are able to learn about the strength and resilience of our ancestors and our nations.”

Idle No More is about human solidarity. Champagne continues: “We’re able to hear those teachings within the medicine wheel and understand that we are all related regardless of the colour of our skin, and like a circle, it is not complete if one of you is missing . . . if you’re hurting, I’m hurting . . . and if I’m hurting, so are you . . . An injustice to one is an injustice to all.” Champagne was consistent; he included Stephen Harper in the company of those damaged by the system Idle No More seeks to overturn.

Lori Mainville: "no fear, no surrender, only love." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Lori Mainville: “no fear, no surrender, only love.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Idle No More cannot be contained or controlled says Lori Mainville. “The media poses a skewed version – always trying commodify or standardize or put it in a dichotomy and this is a people’s movement. The definition rests with the people and our relationship with the people, our allies, our brothers and sisters in each moment as this energy reveals itself. There’s no way you can cap [it].”

Idle No More is an obligation for those who love Mother Earth. “I guess you could say in . . . protecting the land, the waters, we’re your last resort,” says Jo Seenie Redsky. “I know the world is watching our people here, in the country of Canada, to see us rise up and protect what everybody needs to protect and that’s the land and the waters and those yet to come.”

Leah Gazan: "Idle No More is the newest version of a 500-year struggle." Photo: Paul S. Graham

Leah Gazan: “Idle No More is the newest version of a 500-year struggle.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

At its base, says Redsky, Idle No More is about love. “There’s an unconditional love that we have for our kids. That protection that we have for them is the same protection that we need to have for Mother Earth.” For Lori Mainville, whatever the risks, “I keep remembering that the greatest equalizer is love . . . no fear, no surrender, only love . . . For me, it’s about love as a mother and a grandmother and a sister and a community member.”

My reduction of this discussion to a matter of love aside, it is difficult to sum up a discussion of this importance in a few paragraphs.

Fortunately, I brought my video camera.

If you want to get involved, you can find Idle No More on Facebook and on the World Wide Web. As the weather warms, I have a feeling you’ll be able find it and join it in the streets. Don’t hesitate, because I’m sure you’ll receive a warm welcome.

  1. Nosna Devol says:

    Well said! …Something I’ve been pondering for a long time now is how we help the people living in our concrete jungles understand that what goes on in the wild frontier deeply affects them as well?…Anyways, keep up the quality writing, my friend!

    • Perhaps the concrete jungles are the wild frontiers, Nosna. Maybe folks have to start by paying attention to what is going on around them in their own environment.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      • Patrick O'Connell says:

        Perhaps! And maybe folks could just stop making assumptions about each other, and just be true in the environment we share.

  2. Sherwin Racehorse says:

    Keep the pace…change is inevitable–it is what we do with that change that matters.

  3. Nicole says:

    Brilliant article, let’s hope people get it!!

  4. Laurel Krill says:

    Idle no more gives me hope.

  5. Anita says:

    I sincerely hope you are right. Initially I thought it was a call to arms for everyone to stand up for equal rights, fair play, justice, sustainable development and other good causes and I also thought INM would welcome allies and supporters regardless of ‘ethnicity’ or ‘nationality’. Then I saw this by Dr Lynn Gehl and apparently we are not equal after all. So is love and inclusivity actually on the agenda?

    Click to access ally_bill_of_responsibilities_poster.pdf

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing Dr. Gehl’s article. I don’t think that her advice to non-indigenous allies contradicts anything I heard at the panel discussion. What it does do is offer advice to relatively more affluent white activists to reflect on their privilege and to think critically about how they function in the movement.

    • Patrick O'Connell says:

      Indeed it is Anita, I have witnessed with great clarity the essence of this article, and the comments by Dr. Lynn Gehl are made out of fear and from the body of that fear. But it is not a call to arms, it is a call to be true. Love is truth, and all else is a path to darkness. Idle no more is on the right path, but not all who associate are. Focus on the true path – Love = Truth.

  6. Very well written, #IdleNoMore should mean a whole lot more to a whole lot more people, part of the problem is how it has been protrayed in the media, esspecially our own media here in Canada.

    • Patrick O'Connell says:

      But the bigger problem is that we let the media portray anything unto us. We should not let the media dictate. It is a source of information and like all other sources, should be scrutinized for it’s fact’s alone. Any opinions in the media are inconclusive of their complete reasoning, and therefore should be taken as a grain of salt. Rely on the protests and not the media!

  7. […] If your only source of information is the mainstream news media you can be forgiven for wondering what the Idle No More movement is all about. Since it burst on the scene late last year, media atte…  […]

  8. Drummer says:

    Reblogged this on kolonial q and commented:
    Watch the video Panel Discussion. Very serious, moving, educational, and diverse.

    From Youtube:
    “On Feb. 24, 2013, Peace Alliance Winnipeg and Project Peacemakers held a panel discussion in Winnipeg on the importance of Idle No More. The panel was comprised of Idle No More activists, all of who have a rich history of activism that predates the emergence of the movement.

    Chickadee Richard
    Jo Seenie Redsky
    Michael Champagne
    Lori Mainville
    Leah Gazan
    Jerry Daniels

  9. Cheryl says:

    Lately after all the protests and demonstrations have died down I’m looking at our First Nation Administration and realizing the nepotism, unfair hiring practices, the behind the scenes deals for Chief and certain councillors who will benefit from these deals, leaves a bitter taste with me, I feel the IdleNoMore movement is also about the grassroots movement at the First Nation community level, we are watchinig the greed and avarice play out right before our eyes, I for one have begun to question everything from mileage to made up overtime, program monies going into managers pockets, through various means, hiring family members only, no job postings in the community, Harper like appointments made by the Managers, sanctioned by the Chief. Only one councillor at the table questioning these tactics, but receiving no support from other councillors who don’t want to rock their income i.e. the boat….and they claim to support IdleNoMore, yet have very little idea of what its really all about, Fairness, Equality, Justice and above all Love……for Mother Earth..Peace.

    • Patrick O'Connell says:

      Gheryl, it is your choice what you focus on and how you talk to yourself. If you think that anybody or any protest is free of corruption, trivial or gross, and you focus on these inconsistencies, you surrender to them. I hope you will realign with the true efforts of INM, and let the hypocrisies fade in their worth. Hypocrisy does not bear lasting fruit, but tolerance, endurance/patience, forgiveness, compassion/empathy, and above all trust in love will yield eternal orchards of every kind of fruit.

  10. Sherwin Racehorse says:

    Thinking about the need for change is a complex one. Yes I take the issue of Idle No More as an awakening of the people who have been oppressed, currently oppressed, and without change will continue to be oppressed. Oppressed by the very government itself, in this case a monarchy. I hear you Idle No More from the United States as a federally recognized American Indian. I see the wisdom to take the love equation one step further and combined with strategic action and advocacy can create that change. I recommend an added and much needed action, a legal one, that would set in process the goal or end result acheived. I do not see enough about the actual wording of treaty and Canadian constitutional provisions, or about the Indian Act actual statutes and the need to redraft it to meet the needs of the Nations, or about the actual nullification of the dasterdly legislation of C-45 (and the other bills) that are directing the further degredation of the earth. I also believe that the Idle No More has created hope in other countries who’s aboriginal peoples have been oppressed, their lands taken, and subjected them to an lesser degree of society. I leave you with a final thought about the Amercan Indians in this country who have been “idle no more” for generations and faced the issues currently being debated in Canada–we are still on that road of assimilation and sometimes our leadership does not see that they are legislatively assimilated and go forward with destructive projects that destroy the earth and sky, we must stand together and remind them that their actions affect others and must be re-considered for positive change.

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