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Cowichan's third Idle No More rally sends feds treaty, environmental demands

Natives such as Evelyn Thomas face federal effects on land and water rights in Bill C-45, challenged in Idle No More rallies such as Sunday
Natives such as Evelyn Thomas face federal effects on land and water rights in Bill C-45, challenged in Idle No More rallies such as Sunday's gathering in Cowichan.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Cowichan's third Idle No More rally for Native treaty rights, and environmental action sent messages to the feds Sunday.

Against the solid thump, thump, thump of drums, backing songs and hugs, more than 250 folks of all backgrounds circled at Duncan's former downtown mound site, then marched down Trunk Road and across reserve land to the Quw'utsun' Cultural Centre.

'Harper: Listen for a Change' read one sign as noises of discontent rippled through the all-ages crowd scented with sage smoke.

"It makes me feel great our people are coming together again," said drummer Jason Seyward, Sr. "We just want our voices heard."

William Pierre wanted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to hear Aboriginal demands for fair treaty settlements.

"Give us all the stuff we're asking for."

Joyce Scott said she attended to support demands of Natives, and Métis, folks who believe their rights have been trashed by Ottawa's omnibus bills C-38 and C-45, affecting environmental studies, and much more.

"We need to honour our land and water, not exploit them," dance teacher Scott said. "It's obvious.

"I don't think the (government) knows what it's up against."

Leanne Laberge did.

"This is our forth revolution, including 1812, 1885, 1999, and 2013.

"We hope this is a peaceful one as opposed to other ones, but it's in (federal government) hands."

Debra Toporowski told Harper Idle Nor More "isn't a rally but a movement for change."

"Harper made a formal apology (for Native residential-school abuse), but it was empty.

"He's just using Native negotiations as a smoke screen to take all our rights for water and land, then sell them to corporations — just like (ex-B.C. premier Gordon) Campbell did."

Bob Isbister prayed for open minds and hearts among national leaders toward Native demands, after centuries of what he saw as cultural and economic abuse.

"To set it right, we all must put our shoulders to the wheel — be friends with a First Nations person; hire a First Nations person," he said.

Brant Johnny was angry Harper's Tories passed omnibus Bill C-45 without consulting Canadians.

Local rally co-organizer Sheila Johnny said that bill affects all Cowichanians and their children's future.

"We're not going anywhere until this (treaty protest) is settled," vowed co-organizer Evelyn Thomas, telling Harper: "It's time to take us seriously."

Plans for a fourth Cowichan rally were pending.

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