The eyes and ears of the country are on Ottawa today as 500 chiefs have gathered in preparation for tomorrow’s historical meeting with the Prime Minister.
The day was nicknamed J-11, short for January 11th. A day that marks the meeting with First Nations leadership and Stephen Harper. Also the international Idle No More day.
Four leaders from Denendeh have been in meetings all day. Chief Lloyd Chicot, Francois Paulette, Chief Roy Fabian, and Chief Bill Erasmus.
But activists in the grassroots movement are wondering where their place is in tomorrow’s discussion.
It wasn’t long ago that four women in Saskatchewan started the Idle No More Movement to create awareness on the affects of Bill C-45. For two months, thousands of Canadians - indigenous and non-indigenous - have been rallying, protesting, teaching, and uniting the nation... but how will their voice be represented at tomorrow’s meeting?
Some say it is because of the international movement of Idle No More that tomorrow’s meeting is possible. That’s one opinion that Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus doesn’t share.
“The meeting didn’t happen because of Idle No More, the meeting happened because of follow-up from last year and because of insistence from the leadership in the country. Idle No More supports all that so it’s a continued effort from everyone.”
When Chief Theresa Spence started her hunger strike, after the Idle No More movement was established, she requested a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Governor General.
The Fed’s arranged to meet one year after the Crown-First Nations meeting which would have been on January 24th. But considering Chief Spence’s health condition and with pressure from the Idle No More movement, the meeting was bumped up to January 11th.
One of the original founders of the movement, Sylvia McAdams says the grass roots people should have been invited to tomorrow’s historical meeting.
“Idle No More, the movement, is instrumental in bringing forward that meeting because of the pressure that Idle No More has applied and the fact that we haven’t been invited to be a part of that is, in my thoughts, isn’t right.”
Erasmus has not spoken to the volunteers who have led the Idle No More movement in Denendeh. He says if the people have something to say about tomorrow’s meeting, they can talk to their regional chiefs.
“Well they have chiefs that represent them. All of the people who are part of Idle No More, they have elected representatives that are there to speak on their behalf and they have to get their points across to their leadership. So that’s how it works.”
50 Chiefs will meet with Harper s tomorrow from 1-4pm in Ottawa. If Johnston doesn't show up, there is a chance that the chiefs will boycott the meeting. The ceremony with Johnston is scheduled for 6-8pm and 150 chiefs are invited.
There will be an Idle No More rally in Yellowknife tomorrow at noon. There will be food and an information session. The event is located Centre Square mall tomorrow.
Iman Kassam / CKLB News