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Idle No More turned city hall square into a massive circle dance, Monday, January 28, part of a global day of action against the Conservative's anti-ecological omnibus bills, particularly C-45, and timed for the return of the House of Commons.
Well, it was sort of a circle dance. Turns out keeping the choreography intact with 500-plus dancers afoot is far from simple, and many lost their place in the slush and snow. I found it impossible to keep the heavily-mitted hands of people beside me for very long, the unity chain severing regularly, but the dance-challenged crowd kept its enthusiasm amidst the dampness and spitting sky.
The event opened with a smudge ceremony, the smell of burning sage wafting through the square as folks came and went doing city business.
Elder Pauline Shirt, explained the Seven Fires prophecies and quoted the 7th Prophet to the effect that the people would retrace their steps to find out what was lost on the trail. Shirt presented rose petals to all the youth and children present. "These petals were blessed; they gave their lives to you. Be strong; don't be afraid,'' she said to the circle of young recipients, obviously awed by the attention being paid.
Northwest Territories Dene activist, Kiera Kolson, her voice choking with tears, told the participants they were "the rainbow tribe this world has waited for for so long,'' the force that was going to protect the earth from incursion and protect aboriginal rights and heritage. "The Creator doesn't make mistakes; he makes masterpieces and when I look here, masterpieces is all I see.''
Speakers worked hard to solidify the ethos of the Idle uprising offering an unambiguous welcome to non-aboriginals and stressing the movement's pacifist nature. Several times organizers led the chant: "What are We? Idle No More; How are we going to do it? Peacefully."
"I'm not here because I'm angry,'' drummer Shandra Bombay told the crowd. "I'm here because I love this land.'' The powers that be were "dreaming of a magical place'' where non-renewable resources would last for ever. That, she said, could no longer hold.
Even the young First Nations hip-hop artist, before he poured forth, felt obligated to preface his performance with the observation that though his piece was infused with anger, it was scribed with love.
And after an hour and a half of drumming, dancing and earth-honoring commitments, a rep of the Sikh Action Network announced they would be serving tea and somosas - and Idle No More broke for refreshments.