The Idle No More movement continues to garner attention as First Nations members and their supporters take part in gatherings, protests, marches and even blockades.
In Chilliwack, there was a demonstration at Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl's office on Dec. 21, another at Cottonwood on Boxing Day and a "sacred ceremony" at the Vedder River on New Year's Day.
And more is coming. Anyone planning on heading to Washington on Saturday may want to give it a second thought as some Idle No More members have called for all border crossings to be shut down on Jan. 5 "to show the government that we are willing to escalate this to a point where we shut down the country."
The day after Christmas there was a temporary disruption at Cottonwood Mall as protesters drummed and sang among post-holiday shoppers.
"Harper is an old Indian fighter, that's what he does," Sto: lo Grand Chief Ken Mallo-way said at the mall protest.
"He's going to poison the river and the fish are going to die and our rights are going to die . . . . It's time now for all our people to step up and fight this guy. This is our Little Big Horn and he's Custer!"
Earlier in December, dozens of Sto: lo Nation members and supporters marched to Strahl's constituency office. Approximately 20 of the 60 people in attendance jammed into Strahl's foyer and waiting room drumming and singing.
In response to the protest, Strahl said he respected the rights of any group looking to peacefully protest, but he disputed the claims that Bill C-45 is damaging to the environment and First Nations interests.
Strahl said Bill C-45 makes amendments to the land designations provisions of the Indian Act, which will make it faster for First Nations to lease or rent reserve land while they maintain ownership.
He also said the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act do nothing regarding environmental protection.
"Our government has taken significant steps to improve the relationship between First Nations and the Crown," he said via email.
The Idle No More movement, inspired by the hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, was formed after four woman used the term "Idle No More" in a Saskatoon protest against the federal government's Bill C-45.
On Jan. 1, a couple dozen people gathered at the Ved-der River for a "prayer offering to the water," according to Skwah band member Eddie Gardner.
"The water is what it's all about," he told the Times Wednesday. "We wanted to also feed our ancestors because that's where our vision for living in harmony and the natural world come from."
After the Boxing Day demonstration at Cottonwood Mall, a number of people called it disruptive, something Gardner doesn't dispute.
"The drummers were very loud," he said. "I think some of the merchants probably found it disruptive and maybe it interfered with their business a little bit but we didn't stay there all day. . . . We did it at a time when we thought there would be lots of people there so we could raise the consciousness of the people. When you do that you do take a risk of annoying some people and educating others."
Gardner said no dates were set for anything else locally, but he has an Idle No More "teach-in" planned for the University of the Fraser Valley in the coming weeks in addition to another rally at Strahl's office.
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