Idle No More blockade in Alderville offers coffee and a message
From left, Josef Lapointe hands out the coffee and Keith Montreuil provides the pamphlets to a vehicle stopped on County Road 45 Jan. 16, at a blockade organized by Alderville First Nation in support of the Idle No More day of action.
As blockades go, the one mounted by Alderville First Nation Wednesday in support of the Idle No More day of action was a positive one.
Supporters gathered on County Road 45 at the Alderville cenotaph, starting at 8 a.m. By mid-morning, about 30 community members were out to man the blockade, participate in the drumming circle, hold up their signs or just lend moral support.
Every car stopped received information pamphlets and the gift of a coffee.
"We want do to everything in a positive way," grassroots community member Keith Montreuil said.
By mid-morning, they had had to arrange for more copies of their pamphlets, when the 200 they started the day with ran low. And an order had already been sent out for another urn of coffee, when their 120-cup supply seemed in danger of depletion.
Montreuil said it was important for people to know what the Idle No More movement is all about.
The proposed Bill C-45 before Parliament has the potential to cause what protesters fear could be catastrophic changes to such existing legislation as the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, the Environmental Assessment Act, the Indian Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
"The government has a duty to consult with First Nations, and they didn't do that," Montreuil stated.
Diane Thomas Smoke carried a sign saying she was there for the children — she wants to leave a healthy planet for the next generation. For her, to take all the resources and leave behind only pollution amounts to ripping out the heart of Mother Earth and poisoning her blood.
Though the blockade participants’ pamphlets characterize the bill as a direct attack on First Nations lands, Montreuil pointed out that everyone has a stake.
"Because that affects everyone in Canada, with all the waterways being opened up and unprotected — 99% of them — the best way of combating the Omnibus Bill is by getting behind the First Nations people," he stated.
Now living in Hamilton, Smoke has supported a number of Idle No More actions, including the big one on Victoria Island where Chief Theresa Spence continues her hunger strike. Smoke was in Alderville to visit her elderly father, whom she hoped to get out to the blockade later in the day.
Montreuil was pleasantly impressed with how many people already knew some of the background of Idle No More.
"I would say 95% know more than just the name of the movement," he estimated.
The delay at the blockade is just long enough for participants to explain what they are doing, hand out the pamphlet and offer a coffee. Quite often, they are rewarded with a grin and a thumbs-up.
If people already know about the issue, they are waved on.
"Overall, reaction has been very supportive. We haven't really seen any bad apples yet," Montreuil said.
As for potential future demonstrations, he added that there is no set schedule.
"It's more of a flash-mob thing that just kind of happens."