Idle No More, Defenders of the Land form alliance, call for “Sovereignty Summer”
By Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, March 18, 2013
Idle No More has joined forces with Defenders of the Land and the new alliance plans to launch “escalating action” during what is being called the “Sovereignty Summer,” according to a draft joint declaration obtained by APTN National News.
The alliance has been endorsed by Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson, the four founders of Idle No More, along with the movement’s lead organizers, provincial and territorial chapters.
As a result of the alliance, Idle No More has now agreed to support non-violent direct action, including blockades, in the cause of Indigenous rights.
The Defenders of the Land is an established network of Indigenous activists that was formally formed in 2008. The network has been involved in Indigenous land rights issues across the country, including in ongoing hotspots like Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation and Barriere Lake in Quebec.
The joint declaration is calling for a “Sovereignty Summer” that would see “co-ordinated non-violent direct actions.” The statement also calls on “non-Indigenous peoples” to join Indigenous communities in the actions.
“Alternatives will only come to life if we escalate our actions, taking bold non-violent direct action that challenges the illegitimate power of corporations who dictate government police,” says the draft declaration.
The declaration also calls for a “Solidarity Spring” to precede the Sovereignty Summer with calls to action on March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and April 22, Earth Day.
“The Harper government’s agenda is clear: to weaken all collective rights and environmental protections, in order to turn Canada into an extraction state that gives corporations unchecked power to destroy our communities and environment for profit,” says the statement. “Idle No More and Defenders of the Land….have joined together to issue this common call for escalating action.”
The declaration makes several demands, including a repeal of sections of the now passed Bill C-45 that impact the environment along with Aboriginal and Treaty rights; changing the electoral system to proportional representation; ensuring consultation happens before any legislation is introduced that impacts collective rights and the environment; the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; an end to the government’s policies of “extinguishment;” full implementation of the treaties and a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.
“We know it will take a lot more to defeat (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) and the corporate agenda. But against the power of their money and weapons, we have the power of our bodies and spirits,” says the declaration. “There is nothing that can match the power of peaceful, collective action in defense of the people and Mother Earth.”