Re: "Movement's message lacks focus," the Now, Jan. 8.
Columnist Keith Baldrey wonders about the meaning of the "Idle No More" movement, and ultimately its effectiveness.
As a First Nations person, Idle No More is - among other things - foremost, a cultural revitalization, a coming together of diverse aboriginal peoples, united by a common history and shared future as stewards of the land and rivers. When protesting Bill C-45, natives speak a common language - the need to protect the environment, part of the sacred covenant with the Creator.
As for raised expectations, there is arguably no group in Canada more experienced in broken promises than First Nations. Take education, for example. In the early 1830s, Ojibwa chief Shingwaukonce paddled to York to ask for teachers for his people, pledging annuities to support schools. It was an attempt to access new learning in order to adapt to change. The numbered treaties during the 1870s also included schools on reserves.
But by the end of the 19th century, the federal government unilaterally imposed the residential school system, preferring to remove aboriginal children from their homes to distant institutions. The quality of instruction was negligible, as Ottawa's parsimonious funding forced residential schools to use student labour to operate.
Idle No More's real strength will be in the creation of a unified people, "one fire," that will be resilient and patient in pursuit of its goals.
Bob Burgel, Surrey
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