Idle No More in Washington Square Park

On Friday December 28th in Washington Square Park activists performed a solidarity flash mob for the growing, but already Canada-wide, “Idle No More” movement opposing the recent passage of the C-45 bill.

Bill C-45 greatly diminishes the sovereignty of the Indian people’s rights to their own land in favor of the economic interests of a few. From the Idle No More website “The Bill brings forward changes specifically to the Indian Act that will lower the threshold of community consent in the designation and surrender process of Indian Reserve Lands.” Furthermore, a direct quote from Sheelah Mclean on the same website reads “the changes they are making to the environmental legislation is stunning in terms of the protections it will take away from the bodies of water – rivers and lakes, across the country.”

An October 19th article from the CBCNews website explains how the C-45 Omnibus bill includes a change to the 130-year-old Navigable Waters Protection Act. The change would leave only “three oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers…under federal protection…” “Over 8,500 rivers and 2 million lakes cover almost 9% of Canada’s total area.”

The bill also frees corporations like TransCanada from many of the obstacles which were previously in place, and complicating, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. A pipeline which will bring Tar Sands Oil (the dirtiest oil in the world) to America for refinement. Check out my blog about a march on Washington against the Keystone XL pipeline for more information on Tar Sands Oil.

The flash mob was attended by a very diverse crowd. Which included a few Occupy Wall Street activists but also many more members of indigenous tribes in Canada, Long Island, and even one from Arizona.

The crowd gathering.

A few participants arriving for the flash mob.

The flashmob in full swing in the fountain area of Washington Square Park.

The flashmob in full swing around the fountain area of Washington Square Park.

Here is a video of the crowd in the above photo.

Members of the flashmob walk sideways in a circle holding signs.

Members of the flash mob walk sideways in a circle holding signs.

A sign of support for Chief Spence.

A sign supporting Chief Spence.

Who is Chief Spence you might ask?

Chief Spence is from the Attawapiskat First Nation and is currently in her 3rd week of a hunger strike in protest of C-45. (See reference article)

A straight-forward sign of opposition.

A straight-forward sign of opposition.

An American flag with a Native American's likeness on it.

An American flag with a Native American’s likeness on it.

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This next element of the flash mob was somewhat out-of-place but it did add another element to the experience:

A tap dancer.

A tap dancer.

Here is video of a short tap dance amidst the flash mob.

For more information on the extent of the C-45 bill watch this gentleman’s brief discussion of it. Here is a link to the gentleman’s write-up of the day.

Two times a call and response was created from the words “Idle No More.” This was the first time.

In the middle of the flash mob was something of a prayer circle. Here are a few photos.

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Here is video of the prayer circle.

Next is a video of the some signs being held as people circled and it climaxes with a few seconds footage from within the prayer circle again.

As the flash mob continued a wonderful moment presented itself. A few children holding a sign expressing the need to protect future generations.

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Shortly thereafter the flash mob reached its climax as many gathered into smaller circles for more intimacy.

The flash mob ended with yet another call and response of “Idle! No More!”

A "group photo" with signs of solidarity.

A “group photo” with signs of solidarity.

Following the flash mob were a few interviews.

The first with an activist and supporter.

Next was an interview with two young ladies who had origins with indigenous tribes.

Next I spoke with a Native Gentleman.

Next I conducted a brief interview with an elder.

Next I spoke with a First Nation member.

Some supporters of the Idle No More movement.

Some supporters of the Idle No More movement.

The flash mob was a very interesting experience and it definitely drew attention to the importance of sovereignty and territorial issues. Unfortunately bill C-45 has been passed, but the Idle No More movement has spread across Canada and has even found supporters as far as Palestine. Only time will tell where it goes from here. No matter what, even though Idle No More did originate in Canada, it has grown larger and has found itself encompassing the struggles of many more around the globe who suffer at the hands of Neo-Liberal policies.

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