By Dennis Michael Plank, Human Rights & Environment Committee Chair
What is happening in Canada about human rights and the environment? Idle No More in Canada has organized the largest mass mobilization of Indigenous People in recent history. Why is this important? It is spreading around the world and it will be coming to Cleveland, Ohio.
Recently Canada has carried out many human rights and environmental abuses against indigenous people of Canada and finally there was a straw that broke the back of the camel. There are many abuses so I will try to list some of them: One, there was abuse on December 14th when the administration of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rammed through Bill C-45, changing the Indian Act to remove environmental and human rights protections. Two, there was abuse when no consultation about the bill took place. Three, there was abuse when the environmental assessment of lakes and rivers was removed. Four, there was abuse when resource extraction without protection was increased (this includes the toxic tar sands mining).
Then Prime Minister Harper refused to meet with Theresa Spence who is Chief of the Attawapiskat Nation. Out of desperation, Chief Spence carried out a hunger strike. The hunger strike sparked protests, flash mobs, letters, rallies, tweets, teach-ins, highway blockades, train blockades, round dances at shopping malls, etc.
Then the above spread to the rest of Canada. Then it spread to the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and the Middle East. Now it is coming to Cleveland, Ohio.
The Idle No More mobilization is influencing The Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance, local indigenous people in Northeast Ohio, and the Sierra Club Northeast Ohio Human Rights and Environment Committee to continue to work on their “22nd Annual Demonstration and Conference to Support the Indigenous People.” We are going to continue to protest racism against Indigenous People in the media and in solidarity with the Idle No More mobilization we are going to work on human rights and the environment.
The demonstration will take place at Progressive Field before the opening day Cleveland Baseball Franchise game and the conference will probably take place at a local United Church of Christ Church after the demonstration. The above will take place on April 8, 2013. For more information call Ferne at 216-252-1622 or Dennis at 216-939-8229.