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Mattagami First Nation plans Idle No More rally

Motorists travelling in the Gogama area on Highway 144 will experience traffic delays, as an Idle No More rally will take place, said the Ontario Provincial Police. The Idle No More activities begin at noon and will last until 4 p.m.
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Idle No More rallies are being done at the grassroots level, and Mattagami First Nation is staging its second rally in support of the movement. File photo.
Motorists travelling in the Gogama area on Highway 144 will experience traffic delays, as an Idle No More rally will take place, said the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Idle No More activities begin at noon and will last until 4 p.m., said Delores McKay, a counsellor with Mattagami First Nation, who is organizing the event. Activities will take place north of the entrance to the Mattagami First Nations Reserve.

More than 40 people will participate in the rally. The intent is to slow down traffic to one lane and hand out information pamphlets about Bill C-45 and its impact.

"We're standing up for our Treaty rights, our land and our water," McKay said. "We want to let all Canadians know about what has happened over the past year, and that it is not just a First Nation concern. This is something that will affect everyone."

Bill C-45 strips environmental regulations from thousands of lakes and rivers throughout Canada, and amends the Indian Act in a way that many believe could threaten Aboriginal land rights.

The Mattagmi First Nation member said while she is a counsellor, it is important to note that the Idle No More rally is being done at the grassroots level. It's a movement that was started by four women in Saskatchewan, she said.

Idle No More originated with Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean, according to the website, idlenomore1.blogspot.ca. The focus is on grassroots voices, treaty and sovereignty. It began in the early part of October when discussing Bill C-45, the massive omnibus budget bill, the provisions of which stray far afield of simple spending measures into environmental protection, land use and other areas.

Much like the Occupy movement, Idle No More aims to be grassroots and its message has been spread mostly through social media. Rallies have been held in various provinces and U.S. states.

"This is not a leadership driven campaign, although many rallies appear to be leadership driven," she said. "I don't know if people are aware of that."

The end of the today's rally will also mark the break of Mattagami First Nation member Deanna Heyde's fast, McKay said. Heyde has been fasting since Jan. 1. Participants will play host to a fasting ceremony following the end of the rally.

This is the second Idle No More rally for Mattagami First Nation, McKay said. The first was held around Christmas, but had a smaller turnout.

The OPP said in a news release that it respects the democratic freedom of any group to assemble for a peaceful purpose as defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Officers will focus on maintaining roadway safety during this event.

The OPP anticipates that no reduction in the level of service provided by emergency responders (police, fire or ambulance) will occur.

Arron Pickard

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