SACKVILLE, N.B. – It was a united front brought together for a common cause.
Idle No More activists were joined on Monday by Mount Allison University students, Sackville town councillors, members of the Maritime United Church of Canada, and many other concerned residents as they took part in a ‘Justice for All’ traffic slowdown along the Trans-Canada Highway to bring attention to several important issues affecting Canadians.
“This movement is not just a First Nations Movement, it’s a people’s movement,” said Brian Francis, a member of the Sikniktuk Mi'kmaq Rights Coalition from Elsipogtog First Nation.
The event, part of the Idle No More Global Day of Action, was in protest of several pieces of federal legislation, including recent changes to Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 – which First Nations groups say threatens their treaty rights and the environment.
The Harper government’s omnibus Bill C-45 reduces the environmental protection on 99 per cent of navigable waterways in Canada. Bill C-38 changes Employment Insurance and removes environmental protection for water and fish.
These bills have sparked hundreds of Idle No More grassroots protest actions across the country and Francis said more and more people are joining in because the protection of water, air and land impacts everyone.
“We’re all fighting for a united cause,” he said.
Town councillor Bill Evans said he joined in Monday’s protest because he wanted to take a stand against Stephen Harper’s agenda, which he says does not reflect the values that Canadians share.
“Decades of environmental protection legislation have been undone,” said Evans of the recent changes to Bill C-45. “It’s movement in the wrong direction.”
Evans said it’s important for Canadians to step up and defend the environment, as well as democracy and human rights.
“I think we have an obligation to do what’s right . . .and what Stephen Harper is doing is so wrong.”
Fellow councillor Margaret Tusz-King said she took part in the event because she wants to ensure a more sustainable lifestyle for future generations.
“Every generation, it seems our values and our rights have been eroded more and more,” she said. “Bill C-45 is one of the last straws.”
With the recent changes to Bill C-45, Tusz-King said the country’s “front line of defense” – the Aboriginal people and their longstanding rights to the land and water – is being threatened.
“Treaty issues are an issue for everyone,” she said.
The event also brought attention to the disappearance of Mount Allison University student Chris Metallic, a member of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, who has been missing since the early-morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 25.
“The Chris Metallic situation has got to be put back in the forefront,” said Francis.