Idle No More demonstrations continued across Canada and in the Lakeland this past week, which included about 40 people taking part in a demonstration at the center of the roundabout on Highway 55 at the intersection with Highway 892, about 20 kilometres west of Cold Lake, as part of the movement's Jan. 16 National Day of Action.
Demonstrators from Cold Lake First Nations, Frog Lake First Nation, Elizabeth Métis Settlement, Kikino Métis Settlement and other surrounding communities braved the chilly weather in an effort to continue to inform the public about the perceived erosion of Indigenous rights, environmental protection and democratic values, particularly through the passing of the federal budget Bill C-45.
“This is a peaceful demonstration,” said Mervin Grandbois, Idle No More demonstrator and vice president of the Indian Association of Alberta – Treaty 6 area. “We're here today to continue the movement, to continue the fight against Bill C-45 and to continue to fight for our rights.”
Demonstrators arrived at the roundabout early last Wednesday, setting up a teepee in the center and handing out information flyers to passing motorists, while RCMP, stationed at all four corners of the intersection, looked on from a distance.
The majority of motorists slowed down to have a look as they passed through, and while many stopped to receive the information, a select few voiced their displeasure with the demonstration, some cursing at demonstrators and others yelling support for the federal Conservatives, particularly Stephen Harper, as they drove past.
By mid-afternoon the largest contingent of demonstrators had arrived at the roundabout, and after many sat in on a traditional water ceremony and blessing to all four directions inside the teepee, the entire group took part in a round dance outside, as drum music played in the background.
A group of women at the demonstration spoke about the worsening conditions on reserves and the need to better educate the youth.
“Our youth need to know there is a better way to live and that education is vital to a better life,” said one of the women.
Another woman said, “We are polluting the world around us and it has to stop. Everything has become about money. The air, the land, the food, it's all being polluted for profits.”
Harvie Scanie, a demonstrator from Cold Lake First Nations said, “We have to be thankful for this earth and what she provides us. We have to find a way for everything to exist in harmony together.”
The demonstration continued until 4 p.m. that day.
Elsewhere in the country, peaceful protests took place as well as blockades on railways and highways, in an effort to draw attention to the movement.
However, several demonstrators at the roundabout did not agree with the more aggressive tactics, believing peaceful demonstrations can help create the changes they are working for.
Sylvia McAdam, one of the founders of Idle No More, also denounced the use of blockades and aggressive threats, but has spoken in support of peaceful protest.