Who Should Support Idle no More?

Aboriginal youth and women started the rallies and demonstrations in support of Theresa Spence and the Chiefs who protested the passing of Bills C-38 and C-45. First Nations leaders are now publicly supporting the movement and more youth and student groups are out on the streets demonstration support for Idle no More.

I believe the rest of us – every Canadian – should be supportive.

Personally I do not endorse the tactics of many of the people involved in the movement – the rallies, flash mobs, blockades, marches and especially the hunger strikes. These actions do not lead directly to  a better understanding of issues or positions, they do not lead to motivating people to take the corrective action needed to deal with very important social and political issues and they are very vulnerable to news media distortions and drama.

However, these action deserve and need the support of every Canadian who believes in fairness, justice and compassion. We – non-aboriginal, middle-class, comfortable Canadians – should be out at these events, we should be taking our families and friends to these opportunities to express our support. We should be looking for our politicians at these events and encouraging them to show their support.

Aboriginal people, especially First Nations a have been forced into untenable circumstances and conditions. A large number, possibly a majority,  have been relegated to an inferiour position in our social order. Thousands of Aboriginal people live in poverty and experience consistent systemic exclusion. The description of these conditions are becoming well known and don’t need repetition here.

What is important now, is that the current expression of the frustration, anger, disillusionment and on and on, is organic and honest. It is not strategic and organized, but non-the-less a genuine political expression of what people feel about the position of Aboriginal people. At a national level, Aboriginal people have been backed into a political corner where other – more conventional, institutional and publicly acceptable – forms of engagement have been denied or have failed them. They have sought out institutional forms of addressing grievances and using the democratic procedures. They have set up service and advocacy organization to promote their rights and deliver the services the people need.

What I also think, is that we as citizens have let down Aboriginal people. We are indirectly complicit in what our governments have done or not done. We have been complicit  in our indifference and ignorance. We have passed the buck to governments and politicians to address Aboriginal needs.  We have  avoided our personal responsibility to include all segments of our society in our social networks. We have not confronted those who have expressed their racism or criticism. We have not educated ourselves about the history of exploitation and abuse endured by Aboriginal people.

So by joining these events and demonstrations, we are expressing our intent to change not only how Aboriginal people are treated by governments, but how we will change our individual and collective relationships. In expressing our commitment to better relationships in this way at this moment of our history, we also will mark a change in how we recognise our social responsibility and the benefit we all we get from creating a society that is inclusive, just and caring.

Follow the Idle no More movement though the Winnipeg based, Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, http://www.youtube.com/aboriginalyouthopps

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About dennislewycky

Communications professional with work experience on three continents and in the fields of public consultations, mass communications and social marketing.
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