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Idle No More Prince Albert 21/12/12

by Frances BuchanDebbie Mihalicz

See video

Video by Frances Buchan. Text by Debbie Mihalicz.

PRINCE ALBERT, SASKATCHEWAN—About 400 people took part in a peaceful Idle No More walk through downtown Prince Albert today. Approximately 75 percent of this group was under the age of 30, and it was very apparent how this is the energy of Idle No More.

Organizers had requested permission of Prince Albert City for the walk and were denied (to our knowledge, the only municipal government in Saskatchewan to do so), but decided to go ahead anyway. As one participant reported later, she was so frightened starting out that her knees were shaking, but when the drummers and singers started the heartbeat on the big pow wow drum, her courage came rushing in and she walked with her head held high. Everyone was smiling; the energy was amazing. Members of at least seven different reserves were there, including James Smith as identified on a beautiful starblanket. The many and colourful signs displayed messages of a distinct First Nations flavour, such as "Harper Needs a Good Smudge" and "Watstagats Awa, Harper!"

The walk started at 15th and Central and proceeded down 2nd, completely filling the northbound lane for two solid blocks. They then proceeded to City Hall where the hundreds filled the foyer in a powerful expression of drumming and singing, which starts off the video. A young woman named Gabrielle Lee addressed the crowd in the foyer with the meaning of Bill C-45 and why it is so important to have it removed. After her talk, the new mayor of Prince Albert, Greg Dionne, appeared and welcomed the group to his home. Someone yelled out, "This is everyone's home!" The Mayor suggested that the walk should really go to Randy Hoback's office, as he is the Federal MP for the area. Dionne concluded by saying he does not support Bill C-45. Considering that the Prince Albert city council had denied Idle No More permission to walk the streets, this statement by the Mayor is a testament to the spirit of Idle No More.

The walk then moved back through downtown and ended at Gateway Mall parking lot, where everyone planted their signs in the snowbank and entered St. Alban Church where bannock and coffee was served. Lawrence Joseph's son Kevin Joseph (a self-proclaimed non-public speaker and musician) then mc'd a wonderful gathering with several speakers including both Elders and Youth. An Elder stated, "Today is the dawn of a new time when the Young ones take over from the Old. The wishbone has become the backbone." The knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm of the Youth is amazing. They know exactly what they're protesting and why they are doing this: to protect the land, the water and treaty rights. Their goal is to have Bill C-45 rescinded and they are vowing they will not stop until it's done. Organizers are already planning their next event.

Groups of youth could be seen hours later still demonstrating at major intersections like 2nd Ave and 15th Street. A contingent of about seven came into the Tim Horton's at that location as we sat having a coffee. Their confidence and enthusiasm transformed the building as they extended handshakes and introduced themselves to total strangers, who in turn asked to take pictures of them with their signs.

Thank you to Frances Buchan of Prince Albert for this video. She marched many blocks in the walk carrying and playing a fairly large African dubai drum which, given its weight, was a fairly ambitious venture, but still managed to capture the video and stills attached. Much appreciated, Frances. 

To the organizers: Masi, Marci Cho, thank you. Keep up the great work. We were honoured to be part of this today.

-Debbie Mihalicz, Committee for Future Generations

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