“We just wanted some awareness brought to the Idle No More movement in Dawson Creek. Just for people to get educated on the bill,” said Angela Healey.
Healey, along with Norma Gouchey, organized the Idle No More protest in Dawson Creek that took place Friday, Jan. 11 along Alaska Avenue from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It was a national day of solidarity across Canada, a set date by the Idle No More to run in conjunction with the meeting between the First Nations and Stephen Harper,” explained Healey.
Approximately 32 people bundled up in gloves, toques and winter coats to show their support for the cause even though the weather conditions were less than favorable at approximately -24 degrees Celsius.
“It was so cold out that anyone that showed up, we were just extremely pleased with. We just wanted to get a little more attention for the issues, that was our main purpose for being out there,” explained Healey.
The Idle No More Campaign protests and opposes Bill C-45. Healey explained that there are two main issues with the bill.
“The biggest one is consolation taken away from the First Nations. Meaning that First Nations will not have to be consulted with about the way that their land is used,” said Healey. She added, that the other important issue is water. “The second one is the Navigaible Waters Protection Act. Overnight – literally overnight – this law has been passed, it’s on the table right now and that’s what we’re trying to fight for. Over 2 million of Canada’s Lakes and Waterways [were] reduced down to 97 lakes and 62 rivers, meaning they are no longer considered protected.”
Healey and Gouchey explained that they decided to organize the protest because they didn’t want to travel somewhere else to have to participate in an Idle No More protest.
“We were feeling left out,” said Gouchey.
Healey agreed and explained that when she and Gouchey noticed nothing was happening in Dawson Creek, she didn’t see why they couldn’t take part.
“I thought, ‘Why can’t we?’ We know there’s lots of people in Dawson who care.”
Those who chose to brave the weather in support of the cause certainly showed that this is something they feel is important.
Rhonda Ward explained that she’s just trying to help create a better country for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I’m supporting First Nations, I want things to change in this country because of the injustices and the treaties not being honoured.”
While yesterday’s protests did attract some negative reactions from people, both Healey and Gouchey explained that the purpose was for more exposure and to get people talking about the issue.
“When things like this actually come up, it gets divided quite quickly. It’s a little disheartening. That’s ok, it just makes us fight a little harder, a little longer and we won’t give up. Good, bad and all in between, people are talking about us,” said Gouchey.
Healey agreed saying, “We are trying to raise awareness on the impact of Bill C-45 on our environment and our future.”
Healey also added that for the most part the amount of support was overwhelming.
“It was great to have that support even just a wave and a thumbs up, it was really uplifting,” she said.
Gerald Ducharme explained why he took part in the protest.
“I’m supporting my brothers and sisters out there. We all have to work together. One voice is not enough. It’s happening all over and it’s good to see everyone rally together,” he said.
Josh Slykhuis also thinks it’s an important issue.
“We need to sit down and have a meaningful dialog with aboriginal people, not dictate,” he said.
According to Brandy Kezer, this issue is something that’s important to anyone who cares about the environment.
“It’s my sons future, I’ve already watched the river go down so much,” she said.
Healy agreed with Gouchey’s earlier statement that it was important to get people thinking about the issue.
“We just really wanted a huge emphasis put on the education. We want people to read up on the bill and become familiar with it and just know what we’re fighting for and that in no way are we protesting oil and gas,” explained Healey.