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Idle No More protest planned for Saturday

The Idle No More movement has awakened in Nanaimo.

Following the success of two demonstration rallies at Woodgrove Centre and in Ladysmith, another is set to take place Saturday (Jan. 12) at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Idle No More, the grassroots movement inspired, in part, by the hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, is about more than the protest of omnibus Bill C-45, which, among other things, infringes on treaty rights, said Thomas Jones.

Jones, a Snuneymuxw First Nations member, said there is hope that Idle No More may be the catalyst for strengthened relations between First Nations communities and Canada.

“We’re here, we want and deserve to be heard,” he said.

Jones has been asked by organizer Jason Connor to attend the Jan. 12 rally, and plans to show his support in full regalia.

“We’re not about anything other than moving forward in a good way,” he said. “The biggest thing to me is the only way we’re going to move forward is to work together.”

Spence has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11, to bring attention to First Nations’ issues and Canada’s treaty relationship. Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to meet with First Nations leaders on Friday (Jan. 11), but Spence stated she would continue her fast until the meeting took place.

“The biggest concern for our people right now is the chief,” Jones said. “We’re definitely showing our support for her.”

The Idle No More Nanaimo rally starts with a gathering in the Maffeo Sutton Parking lot at 11 a.m. From there, the gathering will make its way through town singing songs, and following that, people will be invited to share their thoughts on the issue.

Jones said he anticipates the event could last up to two hours.

Hundreds of Stz’uminus First Nation members and their supporters showed up at the Husky Gas Station in Ladysmith Dec. 31 to support the movement, even blocking traffic on the Trans Canada Highway for several minutes.

“It went really well, it was peaceful and I believe we got our point across in a good way,” said Jones.

He said he expects a similar turn out in Nanaimo on Saturday.

“This is just the beginning, our mind is set and it’s only going to grow,” he said. “People around the world are starting to recognize.”

For more information on the national Idle No More movement, please visit www.idlenomore.com

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