By Sherry Noik,QMI Agency
Idle No More forced Canadians to look at its age-old "Indian question" in 2013. The mostly peaceful mass protests of 2012 gave way in 2013 to hunger strikes, road and rail blockades and even a battle over an unsanitary burger shack, in an escalating demonstration of just how disenchanted First Nations are with federal policies.
For some bands, land claims and self-government remained the principal issues, as was illustrated by the case of the unsanitary and illegal burger shack run by Natives on disputed land in Caledonia, Ont., where aboriginals would not recognize the jurisdiction of municipal, regional or provincial governments.
But, for the first time, increasingly the dialogue centred on Canada's Native population, about a million strong, getting their piece of the pie — a say in how natural resources are extracted, and their share of the payoff.
In October, head of the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo signalled a renewed willingness to work with the feds on major resource development projects and called it a time of "convergence or collision" with the government.
Collisions, meanwhile, did continue at the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C., the Ring of Fire mining development in northern Ontario and the SWN Resources shale exploration project in Rexton, N.B., among others — all sites of protests fought both on the ground and in the courts.
The year came to a close as it began — with Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirming the country's commitment to working with First Nations.