Gloria Galloway reports in the Globe and Mail that hope is fading for those who believed Friday's meeting between native leaders and Stephen Harper would put an end to the Idle No More protests:
Idle No More organizers will hold their own Friday meeting for chiefs that were not invited to the talks on that day with Mr. Harper.
And Governor-General David Johnston announced on Tuesday that he would not be at Mr. Harper’s working meeting with key Assembly of First Nations leaders. As a result, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who called for the meeting in first place, said she might not go either.
Although some chiefs say the leaders of the country’s more than 630 first nations are united in their determination to exert their treaty rights, it is clear that there are divides about how that should be achieved.
There is division among native communities. But that is not surprisisng. People on the ground feel that their official representatives are no longer trustworthy They are taking matters into their own hands -- and they have good reason to do so. As Jeff Denis wrote just before Christmas:
Since 2008, the Harper government has cut aboriginal health funding, gutted environmental review processes, ignored the more than 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada, withheld residential school documents from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, abandoned land claim negotiations, and tried to defend its underfunding of First Nations schools and child welfare agencies.
When some dared call attention to poverty, “corrupt” chiefs were blamed. Although the minister of Aboriginal Affairs, John Duncan, claims to have visited 50 First Nations communities and conducted 5,000 consultations, he and his staff clearly have not gained the First Nations’ consent on the seven currently tabled bills that Idle No More activists oppose.
Meanwhile, Indigenous peoples are the fastest growing population in Canada. They are young, ambitious and well aware of historical and contemporary injustices. Like others abroad, they are revitalizing their languages and cultures, rebuilding their nations, and supported in these initiatives by international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada reluctantly endorsed in 2010.
Things are not over. They've only just begun. Stephen Harper's take no prisoners style of government has come back to bite him. He is about to become a hostage to events he cannot control.