CORNER BROOK — The Idle No More movement may have started as opposition to Bill C-45, but Ashley White believes it’s turned into something more.
“I think Idle No More is a movement about actually standing up and taking action now against things like Bill C-45,” said White.
The young woman from St. George’s, who now lives in Corner Brook, acted as emcee for an Idle No More rally in the city on Sunday.
“My biggest concern about this movement is the choices we make that affect the environment,” said White. “We need to really take time and think about the damage that we’re doing. We can’t say in five years with the next government that we elect, ‘Oh that was a really bad idea, let’s rewind.’”
She added the movement is not just about things that are happening elsewhere in the country or the world, but also issues here at home like the proposed drilling in the city’s watershed.
“If people are concerned, these are the issues they need to speak out about,” White said. “Don’t be idle when it comes to these things.”
Sunday’s rally was organized by The Four O’Clock Whistle. The group produces an independent community publication and, while she is not an official member, White does drop into meetings and submit writings to the publication. She said the group initially wanted to put out an Idle No More information pamphlet, but the more it was discussed the idea turned to holding a rally. The timing was set to coincide with other rallies being held all over the world on Sunday and Monday.
The Corner Brook event, which White said was held in solidarity with ones in Labrador and St. John’s, started at the Sir Richard Squires Building and attracted both natives and non-natives. Local aboriginal drummers played as the group walked to the Glynmill Inn Pond for a tobacco ceremony, a round dance and prayers.
White said this fit in with the theme of recent rallies that call for a return to sacred places.
“The aboriginal communities across the country have raised a red flag on this Idle No More and the environment because their cultures are so connected to Mother Earth,” said White.
But that connection is not something everyone feels, and White said that needs to change.
White is not sure what the next step will be for the movement, but she doesn’t think it will fall by the wayside any time soon.
“I hope that this movement continues to inspire people to just think about what we do and speak up and be heard when decisions are being made on your behalf.”
She said the movement can be a stepping stone for government accountability.
“We can’t hold our politicians at fault for making decisions that we feel are wrong if we never ever said I think that’s the wrong decision,” said White. “We won’t accept this damage to Mother Earth. We won’t accept these sweeping legislations that treat some Canadians as second-class citizens. We can’t have a divided nation.”