Roughly 200 people marched through the streets of the downtown core in opposition to federal Omnibus Bill C-45, which contains a swath of legislative changes that affect everything from retirement age to changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The group was comprised of members of First Nations communities and citizens who have taken offense to the Harper Government’s legislative agenda.
The protest, which began at the riverfront with a traditional aboriginal smudging ceremony, lead participants to the corner of Ouellette and University for speeches by Tribe Elders, and eventually to Senator Croll park for impassioned speeches by general participants.
Lorena Garvey-Shepley helped to organize the protest and she explained that she was most concerned with the fact that Bill C-45 “affects treaty rights, and the land, and the water, and the people that are covered under those treaties.”
“On December 5, there were 2.5million protected waterways in Canada, as of December 6 when they passed that bill, there’s 82 protected waterways in Canada,” commented Garvey-Shepley, adding, “This is so that corporations can come in…without keeping the land and the water clean. They never asked for permission, they snuck that bill in, without consulting or getting any consent from first nations, not one.”
Andrea Landry also helped to organize the event and she stated that she attended to “honour our inherent rights” as Bill C-45 is “assimilative legislation, which isn’t honouring our treaty rights and it’s disrespecting to who we are as indigenous peoples.”
Landry is most offended that C-45 allows for “outside corporations to slowly privatize our land…for economic development in our communities, which can lead to mining, and which can lead to desecration of our land, our traditional territories.”
“I’m very proud and honoured to be standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in this community,” stated Landry, adding, “I’ve lived in Windsor for four months now, and I haven’t seen a lot of indigenous peoples. To see us coming together as brothers and sisters and fighting for the same rights, I am deeply honoured and humbled that we are here working together.”
Theo Blackbard-John is from Walpole Island and he stated that he attended the protest because he believes that “Canadians deserve to hear the truth about what’s going on with their resources”.
“I really pray that eyes are opened up through this movement and that action can finally start to progress into our daily living,” commented Blackbard-John, adding, “because we’re all one- we’re all a community.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.