Union leaders oppose bill that targets indigenous rights
Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour is urging Canadians to be Idle No More in opposing Bill C-45.
On the morning of Friday, Dec. 21, union representatives marched with First Nations leaders and Albertans from all walks of life in Edmonton at an “Idle No More” rally against the Harper Government, which has pushed through a wide-ranging bill that undermines First Nations’ treaty rights.
“Environmentalists, unions, churches, charities, women's groups, and now First Nations - all have been affected by systematic dismantling of anyone who stands opposed to a right-wing agenda,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “It is time to draw a line. It is time, in fact, for us all to be Idle No More.”
Bill C-45 brings changes to the Indian Act that will fast-track the process for aboriginals to surrender their reserve lands by lowering the threshold of community consent needed to hand over territory.
“The Alberta labour movement stands in solidarity with the struggles given voice by Idle No More. In our province, we extend the offer of solidarity and support to those who are speaking out for a better life, better health care, better education, better housing, and an end to racism and inequality.”
Similar rallies have been organized all over Canada, including a main mass rally in Ottawa. Idle No More has involved round-dances in shopping malls in Saskatchewan and Edmonton, roadblocks on Northern Alberta highways, and a high-profile hunger strike on Parliament Hill. Its pictures, and messages have gone viral on social media, including thousands of messages on twitter with the hashtag #idlenomore.
“Canadians are frustrated with a lack of consultation,” McGowan said. “And it’s inspiring to see so many people voicing their solidarity with a grassroots movement that brings together people from all walks of life. Over the past five years, the Harper government has voiced platitudes about First Nations, while cutting funding, abandoning claim negotiations, ignoring a crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and undermining the environmental laws that protect the land and water resources that vital to many Indigenous communities. Canadians are saying that they will not allow their government to remain idle about these issues. ”
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email [email protected].