One of the organizers, Adrienne Greyeyes, says the four women that started the movement were getting frustrated because of the changes that would be made in the bill, and how little attention they were getting.
“It was getting pushed through because the Conservative government has a majority government at the moment,” she argues. “They decided to join together and start educating their communities about what’s actually happening.”
She explains there are two major issues with the bill: that it removes protection from the majority of lakes and rivers in the country, and it fast-tracks the process to surrender reserve lands.
“It goes from having over 2,000 lakes and rivers protected, to only 95 being protected,” she says. “What that means is, when oil companies come in to take resources from the land, they no longer have to consult on the damage that’s going to happen to that water.”
Watching and reading about these changes and the growth of the Idle No More movement, Greyeyes felt something had to be done locally. After all, these are changes she argues greatly affect our region.
“I felt like it was really important, especially for our region, to have something happen here, because of how large the oil and gas industry is and how much consultation actually needs to happen around the environment here,” she says. “If all of that were removed, then we could be put in a much worse situation than we already have.”
The bill also reduces the amount of time required for consultation on major industrial projects.
Greyeyes, who is Cree, maintains that while the campaign has become about indigenous rights, what’s at stake affects all Canadians.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions when people hear about First Nations people protesting or doing demonstrations,” she says. “They believe that First Nations people just want more money or they just want more land, but in all reality this is about making sure that all of us who live in Canada will still have a healthy environment and clean air and clean water for all of our kids.”
The information session and discussion will begin Friday at 10 a.m. at the Treaty 8 Tribal Association Board Room, going through the bills in question, and how they will affect our community. There will be an opportunity for letter writing, and at 12 p.m. the group will march to MP Bob Zimmer’s office on 100 Avenue to deliver their messages. There will be an opportunity for speakers and the public to speak.
Friday’s event coincides with a national rally being held in Ottawa.
The Facebook event can be reached here.