OTTAWA, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Canada's aboriginal movement Idle No More said it is distancing itself from chiefs claiming to act on behalf of the campaign.
The protest of possible damage to Canada's indigenous population, known as "first nations," by government regulation began in November, and has spread across the country, Postmedia News said Tuesday.
The founders of the movement said Monday on the Idle No More website, "The chiefs have called for action and anyone who chooses can join with them. However, this is not part of the Idle No More movement as the visions of this grassroots movement does not coincide with the visions of the leadership."
The statement said a number of people in positions of aboriginal leadership have been "calling for action" in the name of Idle No More.
Tanya Kappa, among the first of the movement's organizers, said Idle No More was a reaction to a government budget bill that strips environmental regulations from thousands of lakes and rivers across Canada, and amends the government's Indian Act in a way that could threaten First Nations' land rights.
"We wanted this to be something that was led by everyday people, a horizontal movement. It had to come from the ground up, not the other way around," she said.
Idle No More has been linked to the three-week hunger strike led by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who claims she will starve herself to death if Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not address better living conditions for First Nations people.
The founders of the movement, though, specified in their statement, "We also need to remember the face of Idle No More is also the grassroots people."