SOVEREIGNTY SUMMER: Idle No More/Defenders of the Land Education and Social Justice Campaign

Idle No More has sparked an awakening of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples internationally in support for democracy, human rights, and social and environmental justice. It has raised global consciousness and served as an invitation to communities in North America (Turtle Island) and around the world to participate in local education and activism as part of a powerful, inspiring, and growing social and environmental movement.

Idle No More has joined with Defenders of the Land (a network of rural land-based Indigenous communities fighting to protect their lands and rights) to launch Sovereignty Summer, an education and action-based campaign focused on Indigenous Rights and in defense of Mother Earth. Building on the momentum and enthusiasm of the Idle No More Winter and Spring towards a strategic and effective next stage of this movement...

 

Building from a strong history of Indigenous-led struggle on Turtle Island and around the world, Idle No More was founded by four women (three of whom are Indigenous and one of whom is White) in November 2012 in response to several bills passed in Canada that undermine Indigenous rights and environmental protection. The movement grew quickly, and by January 2013 there were tens of thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people taking part in locally-based actions and mass mobilizations around the world. This movement, which is organized at local, regional, and national levels (and spans the globe), has both articulated demands for concrete changes to legislation that would cause Indigenous communities to permanently lose their lands and ways of life and sparked a broader conversation about the relationship between Indigenous communities and Canada or the United States. Many people new to progressive activism have been inspired by this movement, as have long time activists from different, often divided, struggles: the environment, Indigenous rights, labor, economic development, and working class communities. Its cross-sectoral nature, creative strategies, and democratic structure provide a strong foundation for this struggle to grow into an ongoing and sustainable social movement.

Idle No More has joined with Defenders of the Land (a network of rural land-based Indigenous communities fighting to protect their lands and rights) to launch Sovereignty Summer, an education and action-based campaign focused on Indigenous Rights and in defense of Mother Earth. Building on the momentum and enthusiasm of the Idle No More Winter and Spring towards a strategic and effective next stage of this movement, Sovereignty Summer organizers will:

  • Develop a communications and campaign coordination team.
  • Coordinate issue education in Native communities to discuss and help strengthen understandings of the current political situation and how to strategically address it.
  • Provide issue education in strategically selected non-Native communities and organizations to build a base of informed support to develop links of solidarity that will carry over into other struggles.
  • Engage in organizing and training with Native youth and rural Native communities to help people act strategically and understand and mitigate the risk scenarios.

Both Idle No More and Defenders of the Land are volunteer-run. While this has been an important part of our approach, it has also placed severe limitations on the time that can be put towards this struggle. Ongoing funding is now essential to ensure that this movement can continue to engage community activists, develop new leaders, and build strong and lasting alliances. In the short term, funding will be directed towards hiring Sovereignty Summer organizers. Over the long term, funding will enable the development of the solid infrastructure required to build the base and the necessary political power.

The joint launch of the Sovereignty Summer by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land is a historic moment. It creates the framework for the continued strengthening of the movement of urban and rural Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that is essential for the environmental protection of the land and respect for people’s rights throughout Turtle Island. In its short history, this movement has successfully brought together a wide cross-section of the population and raised awareness about essential human rights and environmental issues, yet, as said by one of the movement’s cofounders, “This is just the beginning.”

1 See idlenomore.ca
2 See www.defendersoftheland.com
3 See http://www.defendersoftheland.org/story/318