Hundreds of Idle No More supporters marched on city hall for speech-making and prayer before rallying at Olympic Plaza Jan. 28.
The march began in four separate corners of the city around 1 p.m. and converged on city hall to gather below the Chief David Crowfoot memorial.
Once the ceremony at city hall concluded, more than 50 supporters made their way to Olympic Plaza. Shortly after their arrival many more activists started pouring in and police maintained a distant but firm presence.
The rally opened with traditional Native American dancing, singing from the Treaty 7 Warriors group and a prayer from elder Alvin Manitopyes.
Following this, organizer Autumn Eaglespeaker addressed the people.
“It’s time we educate ourselves and understand what is really going on,” she said.
Eaglespeaker said that the movement has a lack of solidarity and unity and she hoped the rally can bring everyone together and show them what the real problems are.
The main complaints of the Idle No More activists lay with the Harper government and its new “omnibus” bill, or Bill C-45.
They and many others fear that this bill will erode the rights of Canadian First Nations peoples and laws that protect the environment.
“We agreed to share our ways and traditions, not have them abolished and destroyed,” said Chief Eldon Weaselchild, member of the Siksika Nation council.
Victoria Crowchild took the stage next with an emotional speech.
“[Harper] started it, let’s get back to him. Phone, fax, write a letter, do whatever you can. He’s the one that will end this,” Crowchild said.
She compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s failure to consult the Indian people to her days back in the residential schools, saying it made her feel weak and helpless.
There was some fun and games at the rally too, along with the serious business.
Calgary actress Michelle Thrush was there to boost spirits and provided some good entertainment through song and dance.
Although her act was fun, she was also very serious about the Idle No More cause.
“I’d like to give Harper an alarm clock so he can wake up, a mirror so he can honestly look at himself, and some moccasins to walk a while in our shoes.”
Around Canada and worldwide, many other protests and rallies were conducted on the same day to show support for the Idle No More movement.