Although the Idle No More movement may appear to have disappeared from national media coverage it is still active in many communities including that of Simon Fraser University. On Monday, April 8th SFU students, alumni, faculty and staff came together to hold an Idle No More rally at the Burnaby campus. The global grassroots movement is aimed at bringing attention and resolution to the many longstanding Aboriginal economic, social, human rights and environmental issues.
The free public event invited both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members from both the university and beyond to join the peaceful protest-style rally and show their support. Several organizations on campus came together to make the event a success including the First Nations Student Association (FNSA), Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG), Women’s Centre and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples (OAP). Other university groups that supported the event with their presence were Out On Campus, CJSF Radio, the Indigenous Student Centre and Sustainable SFU. “We want to educate the general SFU population about Aboriginal peoples today, our histories, and also to raise awareness about the many common misconceptions about Aboriginal peoples that are prevalent in our society” said Lindsay Wainwright. The SFU biology student and FNSA Board Representative was a key event organizer.
The event started off with a heartfelt prayer from SFU Resident Elder Maureen followed by moving speeches from four local Aboriginal women to celebrate Idle No More movement founders. Throughout the day various speakers from both the SFU community and abroad gave inspiring insight into topics ranging from Aboriginal sovereignty, racism, decolonization, women's rights and environmental protection. The speaker list included Jennifer Allen, a well-known First Nations human rights advocate and Wild Salmon Warrior, Jay Peachy, founder of the organization Salmon are Sacred which serves to educate the public about the dangers faced by wild salmon due to fish farming and habitat loss. South Dakota Drum Group was present throughout the day providing attendees with traditional drumming and singing.
The smell of burning white sage filled Convocation Mall throughout the day and the overall atmosphere was culturally appropriate, inviting and inspiring. Many university students stopped by to witness the rally and to also enjoy some traditional bannock and jam. "We are Idle No More and we want to know more. We also want others to know more," demanded FNSA Council Member Loryn Blower during her moving speech. The event sparked a wave of media coverage including a visit from the Global TV news crew and various talk radio interviews including News 1130 and BCIT's Evolution Radio. William Lindsay, OAP director, stated “This event exemplifies how SFU Aboriginal students are leading community discussion about issues of importance. Such students are educated about the Idle No More movement, they are tech savvy and they have the core leadership skills necessary for putting something like this together. I am proud of them.”
Beyond the Blog
Watch a video from the event.