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Canada's Indian movement gains momentum

Dec. 24, 2012 at 3:33 PM

OTTAWA, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Native Indians in Canada say protests over the federal government's inability to deal with their issues, organized under the slogan "Idle No More," will go on.

A series of demonstrations last week on Ottawa's Parliament Hill by members of First Nations, the Canadian term for indigenous Indians, followed by a rally at the Vancouver (British Columbia) Art Gallery, a three-day blockade of a railroad track in Sarnia, Ontario, and a hunger strike in Ottawa by Chief Theresa Spence are indicative of a movement that will not disappear in the winter cold, the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail reported Monday.

"Because of poor housing, high unemployment rate with our young people, high rate of suicide and everything else, the level of frustration is very, very high with First Nations across Canada," said Ontario regional chief of "Idle No More" Stan Beardy.

The movement will get larger, said Pam Palmeter, a Mi'kmaq tribe lawyer and university professor.

"Things are going to escalate until Canada comes to the table," she said.

A budget bill in Parliament, which includes environmental changes that could loosen controls on land development and water supply native people and their communities rely, ignited the protests, the newspaper said, as well as cutting of federal funding to a number of First Nations groups.

Palmeter said some groups were afraid to speak up over relations between first nations and the government, but the fear is now gone because the funding will be lost anyway, "and we are not going down without a fight."

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