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Elijah Harper, key player in Meech Lake accord, dies at 64

Ex-Manitoba MLA, MP and political maverick died of cardiac failure related to diabetes

Posted: May 17, 2013 9:51 AM CT 

Last Updated: May 17, 2013 7:27 PM CT

Elijah Harper, a former Manitoba MLA and MP who was a key player in defeating the Meech Lake accord, has died at the age of 64.

Harper died early Friday in Ottawa as a result of cardiac failure due to diabetes complications, according to a statement released by his family.

Harper achieved national fame in 1990 by holding an eagle feather as he stood in the Manitoba legislature and refused to support the Meech Lake accord, effectively blocking the constitutional amendment package negotiated to gain Quebec's acceptance of the Constitution Act of 1982.

Harper protested that the proposed accord was negotiated in 1987 without the input of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

The accord required ratification by all 10 provincial legislatures and Parliament, and Harper's action prevented Manitoba from doing so before the deadline. Newfoundland followed by cancelling its free vote in the legislature. 

Family says Harper 'a true leader and visionary'

His wife, Anita Olsen Harper, his children and the family said in the statement that Harper "was a wonderful man, father, partner. He was a true leader and visionary in every sense of the word."

  • Defeating Meech Lake
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The statement added: "He will have a place in Canadian history, forever, for his devotion to public service and uniting his fellow First Nations with pride, determination and resolve.  Elijah will also be remembered for bringing aboriginal and non-aboriginal people together to find a spiritual basis for healing and understanding. We will miss him terribly and love him forever.”...READ FULL AT CBC

It is, in the end, the story of one man and one feather.

The man is there for history to measure. He has a name, an age and an address: Elijah Harper, 41, of Red Sucker Lake, Northern Manitoba. He has a voice to speak for himself, a past that can be traced and on Friday (June 22) he took action on a matter for which he will be forever judged.

At 12:30 p.m. his very soft "No" from the back row of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly brought an end to debate on the Meech Lake Accord. Elijah Harper knows he will be both blamed and cheered for having done what no one else would dare.

The feather is not so easily explained... (Windspeaker, The feather, Elijah Harper and Meech Lake)


Elijah Harper: "He will be remembered and have a place in history forever"


Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba First Nations offered his condolences to the family of Elijah Harper, and reflected on his significance to Indigenous people in Canada:

As a residential school survivor, Elijah spent a large part of his life fighting for the rights of First Nations people of Canada and for the betterment of the human condition around the world while he was a Chief of Red Sucker Lake First Nation, worked with the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, a Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, a Member of Parliament and as a Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission. As a humber leader, he made Canadian history when he, with eagle feather in hand, said 'No' to the Meech Lake Accord. He felt that the Indigenous people of this country were not being recognized or being allowed to participate in a meaningful way in that constitutional process. (Rabble,
Elijah Harper remembered: 'He will have a place in Canadian history forever')


Greatness is a Gift...He Was Our Gift




Published in National News
Saturday, 27 April 2013 18:17

Idle No More win's Best Democratic Movement

January 22, 2013

Idle No More wins Samara’s Best Democratic Moment of 2012

When Samara started the “Best Moment in Canadian Democracy” contest in 2011, the Arab Spring had just begun. Reflecting on these uprisings in the Middle East, an American in Samara’s community emailed to thank us for this contest, noting it was important to remember to be vigilant and celebrate democracy at home.

“Given what is happening in the Middle East now,” he wrote, “I think your survey results are particularly resonant… thanks for the reminder that democracy is important and for helping celebrate Canada's own democracy.”

We are pleased to provide this opportunity for us to reflect on the best moments in Canadian democracy.

This year, you nominated five worthy candidates – the Quebec Student Movement, Female Premiers, Checks and Balances, the Speaker’s protection of minority voices, and Idle No More -and the votes are in. The winner, with 32% of the vote, is Idle No More.

The Idle No More movement may have begun in 2012, but it, and the demonstrations it’s spurred are thriving in 2013. Protests continue, Chief Theresa Spence continues her hunger strike and blockades are making international news.

The rise of the citizens’ voice through protest is a trend we’ve been seeing in this contest since its inception. In each year since this began a protest of some kind has won the contest: anti-prorogation rallies in 2010, the Occupy Movement in 2011 and now Idle No More in 2012.

These movements began, at least in part, online, or were considerably boosted through their presence in social media. While it’s likely true that an online contest privileges these types of movements, we still see it as a snapshot of what’s capturing the imagination of Canadians.

We hope you have enjoyed taking time to reflect on the best moments in Canada’s democracy last year, and here’s wishing you a democratic 2013!


Congratulations to Ryan Patrice who, as the official winner of our contest, will be awarded a political book of his choice.

Final votes:
Idle No More: 32%
Female Premiers: 20%
Speaker’s ruling: 17%
Quebec Student Movement: 19%
Checks and Balances in Place: 10%


Source retrieved April 28, 2013:

Published in Announcements

With Idle No More only months old and the intensity of energy that lead the movement into the lives of millions worldwide from the tables of families to the tables of the fingertips shared on social media to the lips of children, youth, and adults in classrooms...we sometimes get preoccupied with planning the next steps, creating and creating, to the next everything to create more awareness, knowledge, and empowerment; that sometimes we forget in our busy selfless days of Idle No More to show and share our gratitude.

Therefore, this goes out to all those who are doing their part to support humanity and Mother Earth to heal, celebrate life, and honor each other...this goes out to the walkers, the water walkers, the fasters, the ceremonial holders, the pipe holders, the hunger strikers, the ones who are putting their lives on the line to create Change.

We can not ever show or say enough to share how grateful and thankful we are for all that you do...therefore, we send this out to all of you (not limited to any)...

With humbled respect to all peoples of all languages, creeds, and cultures, I send this out on behalf of all and in my Cree language (only because it's the closest word I know) as a way to express the utmost gratitude is to say,


I can not completely translate in English or any other language without it loosing it's true value but I can try my best ...

it means:

to be grateful, with the most respect, honor, with humility, and whole hearted joy, and love...


We send this out and dedicate these Indigenous (Native American) Poems to you all...

we smudge and pray the Eagle Beings carry our prayers and hopes on their wings to the Creator for you all...

#idlenomore Forever...its a Spirit and Lives!



(Retrieved April 23, 2013 from

Life offers us the opportunity to become a Spiritual Warrior. 
A warrior is one who bravely goes into those dark areas within 
themselves to ferret out the Truth of their being. 
It takes great courage, stamina and endurance to 
become a Spiritual Warrior.

The path is narrow, the terrain rough and rocky. 
You will walk alone: through the dark caves, 
up those steep climbs and through the dense thick forest. 
You will meet your dark side. The faces of fear, deceit, and 
sadness all await your arrival

No one can take this journey but you. 
There comes a time, in each of our lives, 
when we are given the choice to follow this path. 
Should we decide to embark on this journey, 
we can never turn back.... Our lives are changed forever 
On this journey, there are many different places we can 
choose to slip into and hide. But the path goes on. 
The Spiritual Warrior stays the course, wounded at times, 
exhausted and out of energy. Many times, the Warrior will 
struggle back to their feet to take only a few steps before 
falling again.

Rested, they forge on, 
continuing the treacherous path. 
The journey continues. The Spiritual Warrior 
stays the course. Weakened, but never broken. 
One day, the battle, loneliness and desperate fights are over. 
The sun breaks through the clouds; the birds begin to sing 
their sweet melodies. There is a change in the energy. 
A deep change within the self.

The warrior has fought the courageous fight. 
The battle of the dark night of the soul is won. 
New energy now fills the Warrior. 
A new path is now laid before them. 
A gentler path filled with the inner-knowing 
of one who has personal empowerment.

With their personal battle won, they are filled with joy. 
A new awareness that they are one with the Spirit beams 
as they go forth to show others the way. 
They are not permitted to walk the path for others. 
They can only love, guide and be a living example 
of the Truth of their being.



A Song of Hope

A Song of Hope by Oodgeroo (Kath Walker)

(Retrived April 23, 2013 from

Look up, my people,

The dawn is breaking

The world is waking

To a bright new day

When none defame us

No restriction tame us

Nor colour shame us

Nor sneer dismay.

Now brood no more

On the years behind you

The hope assigned you

Shall the past replace

When a juster justice

Grown wise and stronger

Points the bone no longer

At a darker race.

So long we waited

Bound and frustrated

Till hat e be hated

And caste deposed

Now light shall guide us

No goal denied us

And all doors open

That long were closed.

See plain the promise

Dark freedom-lover!

Night's nearly over

And though long the climb

New rights will greet us

New mateship meet us

And joy complete us

In our new Dream Time.

To our fathers' fathers

The paid, the sorrow;

To our children's children

the glad tomorrow. [1]


Published in Celebrating Greatness

Instead of meeting with Aboriginal youth who had traveled 1,600 kilometres by foot in -50°C frigid winter temperatures to Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Harper went to an airport photo-op with two pandas.

Inspired by the Idle No More movement, 17-year-old David Kawapit Jr. and six friends left their traditional territory to travel for two months through brush, snow and frigid winter temperatures - walking from northern Quebec to Ottawa to call attention to local issues facing youth, including suicide, and fight for the future of Aboriginal people in Canada.

And instead of meeting with the walkers, Prime Minister Harper chose to leave town for a photo-op with two pandas. He’s spending $10 million to rent the pandas. Seriously. $10 million for panda priorities. 1 It’s outrageous to spend $10 million on pandas while Aboriginal children and youth receive $2-3,000 less education funding each year than non-native children and youth -- and need to walk 1,600km just to be heard by our government. 2,3

Sign the petition to PM Harper: It’s wrong to put PR stunts before people. Recognize First Nations rights and commit to equal education funding for Aboriginal children and youth.



Canada’s Aboriginal youth face many hurdles -- and this panda PR shows you the problem with this government’s priorities.

Cindy Blackstock, founder of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has said that this means First Nations students have “fewer books, no libraries, no computers and very few science labs or learning supports for learners with different needs. Many First Nations children have to leave home at a young age to go to school hundreds of kilometers away and others go to schools in terrible conditions that include rat, snake and mold infestations. These horrible conditions contribute to less than half of First Nations children graduating from high school.” 3

Young people shouldn’t have to walk 1,600km to get our government’s attention.

Education funding for Aboriginal children and youth is a federal responsibility.We need our government to commit to a plan to reach equal education funding for Aboriginal children and youth in Canada.

Equal education funding is a good start, and we need to think big-picture. Time and again, Canada has broken its treaty promises to First Nations. That’s why Canada and many Canadians have gotten rich off the land’s resources, while First Nations have been locked into structural poverty. 4,5

This is a moment to make sure Canadians know what’s going on, make our voices heard, and keep our promises. Please sign this urgent petition now and share it with your friends and networks.

Here’s quote from our friend Heather Milton Lightening, Cree advocate and organizer, who offered this statement of support:

"Our people have more power than we know and understand. Harper is someone who understands power. This is a game of wills, and his acknowledgment of pandas over the Nishiyuu youth is intended to show that our people are powerless in the eyes of his regime. Little does he know leaders come and go but our people are forever. These youth showed the world the power of our people. Now it’s time to act."

Published in Global News
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