Prior to the march, an information session was held at Treaty 8, where organizers and ralliers explained what they knew about the Idle No More movement, and their concerns about federal bills C-38 and C-45. Organizer Adrienne Greyeyes reiterated her concerns about the majority of rivers and lakes in the country losing protected status, as well as the expedited and easier process of surrendering reserve lands.
Halfway River elder Maise Metecheah also took the time to speak to the group, expressing her worries about how things have changed in our region.
"I just feel so upset, but I don't want to be," she said. "We've got to fight together, all the bands, seven bands together, elders, youth, speak up!
However, at the heart of today's rally was the group's desire to clarify what these policy changes are, and what they would mean to our region. Protester Garry Oker explains that they are asking to meet with Zimmer to gain a mutual understanding of both C-38 and C-45 and also to clarify their position, which they feel has been misunderstood in our community.
"People are affected right now," he says. "Everything is for oil and gas development, there's all kinds of mining stuff going on, Site C's being done, so we've got all these developments, so we need to ensure that the rights of the people are protected, and also to bring this awareness up so that people understand what's going on."
Several of those at the information session signed letters asking for Zimmer to meet with the group, which were then delivered to his office, with several gifts, including a traditional blanket, and a goose feather with two beaver claws.
The Fort St. John rally today is just one of several held across the country on a day of solidarity for the Idle No More movement.
Photos from the event are below:
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Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.