Hello again everyone!
For the past couple posts, I have been addressing a social movement that I believe is very for Canadians to know about. The ‘Idle No More’ movement began in 2012 in protest of the Conservative Canadian government. Now it is six years later, and the movement remains more prevalent than ever. Although we may not see this hashtag as often as we did a few years back, we see its effects. The movement have got people angry, which is a good thing. Indigenous discrimination and marginalization is nothing new, and it is still a huge issue in Canada, but less and less are tolerating it. More and more Indigenous individuals have found their voice thanks to the ‘Idle No More’ movement, and they’re vocalizing their woes and complaints, and the harmful injustices they face.
With Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation last year, there was a lot of debate and discussion on what this date really commemorated. I myself did not end up celebrating, and I chose not to after seeing an art exhibit called Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. It was created by a Cree artist named Kent Monkman who created the exhibit as a response to the Canada 150 celebrations. He showed what Canadians were really celebrating, and he showed how Indigenous are living in present day urban areas, but also how they were treated during the height of colonialism. This exhibit was the most powerful thing I had ever seen, and I continue to think of it daily.
Also, leading up to July 1st, I saw many posters and flyers around my neighbourhood in Toronto with an upside-down black maple leaf and the words “Colonialism 150.” This eerie mirroring of government-issued anniversary branding was a form of social marketing that really got me. One day as I was walking, I even stopped and took a picture of this poster stapled to a pole, and shared it with my 200 Snapchat friends. I too wanted to pass on this message; and I agreed with it. I thought to myself, “Yeah, what are we celebrating? What is so great about Canada? What does 150 years really mean?”
In 2018, there have already been numerous heavily publicized injustices against Indigenous. Two Indigenous youths, Coulten Boushie and Tina Fontaine were murdered a couple years ago, and in 2018, both of their murderers were acquitted. There was significant evidence against their murderers, but alas when a white person murders an Indigenous one, justice is not served. This was a major failing of the Canadian justice system, and once again we are hearing the cries and yells from Indigenous communities, just as we should.
There are numerous Indigenous activists, teachers, and lobbyists who are still actively fueling the movement, and fighting for Indigenous sovereignty. Following the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and even the death of famed Canadian musician, Gord Downie, there has also been a lot of talk regarding reconciliation and solidarity with Indigenous communities. Both men were and continue to be advocates for reconciliation, and towards the end of Downie’s life, most of his efforts went to support Indigenous communities.
A movement such as ‘Idle No More’ can come in waves, and can come in different forms, and this is what I believe is happening. While in 2012 and 2013, most of the discourse was on environmental exploitation, we are now hearing social exploitation as the focus of Indigenous issues. One this though is for sure, Indigenous communities are not being idle, and neither am I, and neither should you.