Idle No More slows rush-hour traffic
While Idle No More protesters marched through the streets of downtown onto the Paris Street bridge, many drivers found themselves idle. Traffic was slowed, if not completely stopped at times, as demonstrators formed a drum circle atop the bridge.
About 100 people marched from Tom Davies Square to the Bridge of Nations Jan. 2, where a drum circle was held, blocking traffic in both directions. Photo by Jenny Jelen.
While Idle No More protesters marched through the streets of downtown onto the Paris Street bridge, many drivers found themselves idle.
Traffic was slowed, if not completely stopped at times, as demonstrators formed a drum circle atop the bridge.
About 100 people marched from Tom Davies Square to the Bridge of Nations, where a drum circle was held, blocking traffic in both directions. Although the demonstration slowed traffic and created some long lines of cars, accessible detours kept traffic flowing. The event, which began at 4 p.m., wrapped up shortly before 5:30 p.m.
Although there appeared to be some impatience from drivers,those to whom Northern Life spoke said they weren't too concerned about the few extra minutes they were spending in traffic and felt those on the bridge had a right to voice their opinions.
“I don't mind it,” one southbound driver said. “It's really not taking any time out of my day. If they feel their rights are being infringed upon, they should be able to stand up for (them).”
Another driver, who wasn't particularly familiar with the movement, said he didn't mind detouring around the protest as he travelled north.
“If it's for a good cause, a few people waiting a few minutes in traffic isn't a big deal, is it?” he asked.
Another driver and passenger waiting to cross the bridge heading north said they felt the march was a good way for those involved with the Idle No More movement to have their message heard.
“It shows a lot of people they're out and about,” the passenger said.
One of those people looking to be heard was Cassandra Mandamin. It was her second time taking part in an Idle No More event.
Although it began in First Nations communities, the Wikwemikong First Nation resident said Idle No More is about all Canadians.
“The land we walk on is sacred,” she said. “We need to protect the land, not just for Natives but for everybody — all Canadians. It has to be protected. Our rights are going to be taken away — we can't let that happen.”
This rally was designed as a show of support for the now international Idle No More movement, which, much in the same fashion as the Occupy movement aimed to encourage solidarity among the poor and middle class, aims to encourage solidarity among First Nations people.
The local event also aimed to show support for Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 20 days now in an attempt to force a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
One of the Idle No More targets is Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill, which at least one Idle No More Facebook page demands be abolished. Although a budget bill, C-45 strays far afield from strictly spending targets into environmental, land use and other areas.
Among the items in the bill that has galvanized First Nations are provisions in the legislation that remove environmental protections from waterways and make it easier to sell reserve lands to private corporations.
Idle No More supporters in Northern Ontario have staged a number of rallies and marches since Dec. 21, when some 400 people gathered in Sudbury.
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