A group of more than 30 students, professors and community members gathered on campus this morning to raise awareness for the Idle No More campaign. The rally was organized in solidarity with community action in 25 cities across Canada opposing Prime Minister Harper's leadership on various issues.
The rally at McMaster, organized by members of the McMaster First Nations Students Association (MFNSA) and the Indigenous Studies Program, began at the Cootes Drive parking lot. Participants carried signs with messages including "Stop Carbon Emissions Before It's Too Late" and "Where is our democracy?"
The group moved toward the centre of campus and congregated outside Mills Library, where Lester Green, a speaker visiting from Six Nations, addressed the crowd about the environmental concerns and educational goals of the movement. Following Green's speech, Idle No More supporters participated in a dance-around.
Christa Jonathan, President of MFNSA, said the campus demonstration follows in the footsteps of similar campus rallies. The Indigenous Studies Program has also held teach-ins over the past two weeks in the Student Centre.
"We just want everyone to know that everyone's treaty people. The Bill [C-45] doesn't just affect aboriginal people - It affects us all," she said.
"It goes back to education," said Green, after the rally. "You have to understand the past, present and future in order to have that better future."
Some members of the campus demonstration joined the larger Idle No More Hamilton initiative downtown later in the afternoon.
As the Idle No More movement continues to gain steam across Canada, the McMaster First Nations Students Association (MFNSA) hosted its own event in solidarity with the movement, hoping to address the many questions that have sprung up in the student body.
Students, staff and faculty filled up the seats in the MUSC Atrium, leaving others to stand and listen to the panel of professors discuss issues facing the indigenous peoples in Canada. The panel included Daniel Coleman (English and Cultural Studies), Vanessa Watts (Indigenous Studies), Jeffrey Denis (Sociology), Rick Monture (English and Cultural Studies) and Amber Dean (English and Cultural Studies).
The event was meant to share information on campus and to show solidarity with the expansive and still-growing Idle No More movement. The issues discussed ranged from violence against First Nations women to the limited number of Indigenous Studies faculty at McMaster. The panel discussion was followed by a round dance, which students were encouraged to join.
Christa Jonathan, MFNSA President, noted that there is a multitude of views on campus, and that the event aimed to "re-educate people in appropriate ways so that they know about the current issues indigenous peoples face, and to encourage students to learn more."
To mark the National Day of Action on Jan. 28, MFNSA plans to hold a march on campus and potentially more teach-ins, as well as a flash mob round-dance.