While the Idle No More national day of action is in full swing across the country, roughly 1000 protestors descended upon Windsor to target the Ambassador Bridge to bring awareness to the movement.
The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest border crossing in North America and the impact of delaying traffic is both costly and attention grabbing.
Police preemptively shut down Huron Church road to allow for the protesters to march towards the bridge, while first nation’s members, supporters and Windsorites alike joined in to participate in the national day of action.
“I’m here in support of the Idle no more movement and to get the government to listen to us in terms of nation to nation sovereignty rights and to protect mother earth,” commented Cheryl Riley of the Seine River First Nation.
Riley doesn’t believe that the federal government is protecting the environment, but rather is “willfully going into our northern communities and they’re tearing up the earth without any proper assessment of what the results will be.”
While many have been critical of economic blockades, many protestors on the scene explained that such action was the only recourse that they had to express their grievances.
Glen Hare, the Deputy Grand Council Chief of the Union of Ontario Indians explained that he was attending the protest to stand with First Nation’s people across Canada, and the world. “It’s not a protest, we’re calling it unity…all of our issues, the environment, water, [first nations] third world conditions in Ontario and Canada.”
Hare is critical of the federal government providing financial aid to other countries to help develop a better standard of living as the “Prime Minister is forgetting his constituents in Ontario, and in Canada. Prime Minister, you’re from Ontario, and living conditions like this is not right.”
“There are resources leaving our country to make other countries better, and [first nations] don’t get a share of that,” stated Hare, adding, “we don’t get one red penny, and they cross through our lands…that’s not right.”
Similarly, Alicia Desouza explained that she was attending the protest to stand in solidarity with first nation’s groups throughout Canada. “Our democratic rights are being eroded…more than that, I think that FN groups have been dealt a terrible card for generations. It’s time that that stopped…treaty rights have to be protected [and] what has been promised has to be honoured, and that’s not happening.”
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.