Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Idle No More inspires grassroots First Nations activism in Edmonton

By Leah Germain

Metro – Edmonton

Exactly one year after members of the Idle No More movement slowed down traffic on the Queen Elizabeth II highway, local activists said the aboriginal groups are now blossoming out to conduct their own grassroots activism.

“I think that people in different communities are comfortable enough at this point in time do to something on their own without using the banner Idle No More,” said Tanya Kappo, who was first involved in the aboriginal group movement when it was brought to Alberta from Saskatchewan.

Kappo said that last year’s highway protest, a blockade that snarled traffic trying to get into and out of Edmonton, got people talking about Idle No More at the time.

“I think it made a lot of people uncomfortable,” she added. “The idea behind organizing an Idle No More event is to capitalize on that energy… and Idle No More is just this generation’s expression of activism.”

Since last year’s protest, Kappo said she has seen different groups pop up with different kinds of peaceful activism, including flash mob dances at West Edmonton Mall and Kingsway Mall.

Last year’s protest organizer and Papaschase Chief, Calvin Bruneau said that if given the chance, he would hold the January protest all over again.

“It showed we could pull stuff off like this,” Bruneau said, noting that since last year the Idle No More movement has slowed down.

“I still think there are some strong elements out there. You don’t see the rallies too much (anymore). I think it is just more isolated incidents out there.”

Bruneau said that while the protest garnered attention for the cause, he personally experienced negative feedback from his peers about the blockade, some going as far to say he killed the movement.

“They were blaming me,” he said. “I was taking a harder stand. I felt doing something like that would really draw attention to the issues.”

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