The words are beginning to echo across this land in a way that I have never seen in my 25 short years of living.
This Monday, December 10th, IDLE NO MORE will descend upon the Manitoba Legislative building and countless other locations across Canada. This wave of political action, peaceful organization and indigenous solidarity is overwhelming. IDLE NO MORE began with four women in Saskatchewan saying enough is enough. What began as “Teach-ins” (short, interactive politics education workshops) and rallies has turned into this National Day of Action.
LESSONS LEARNED (so far)
In my short time of being connected to this movement, I have already learned some valuable lessons. My involvement in the Idle No More movement stretches way back to November 19th, when a rally was organized in less than 24 hours to coincide with some Senators appearing at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. I went and lent the North End Megaphone to the crowd but could not stay for the festivities. I heard it was a small but powerful group. And that was all. Bill c-45, the bill we are protesting was passed earlier this week with no amendments to it. All of our concerns around environmental protection, resource sharing and the future of the Reserve individual ownership consequences are now very, very real. They will likely be passed in the senate in the next few months. You can see which bills are being opposed at the www.idlenomore.com website. Also it has a video of Pam Palmater discussing crown-indigenous relations and why it is everyone’s concern. My next encounter wasn’t until 4 days ago, when I received a message from Xavier Gould asking for more info on the event that didn’t yet exist. Now, 96 hours later over 1,000 people are attending the facebook event, and the Agenda/Poster and call to action are circulating on the internet.
But what Have I Learned?
As a community organizer, and helper in this rally, I have already been pushed out of my comfort zone and am actively learning a new way of organizing with others whom I do not know in a very quick and efficient way. Here are some of the things I have learned
- Trust Your Instincts and share your reactions/emotions/ideas with your team: When you are organizing with a group of people (even over facebook) and you are planning details trust your instincts. If a comment made, or an item confirmed/cancelled gives you a crazy dream, let it out. Our organizers in this movement are a safe place to dream big and help take logical steps to make them really happen.
- Gotta Move Quickly: even a few hours can make a difference. Pay attention to long conversation threads and the links/attachments shared. Make sure you are giving as much feedback as you can, but also identifying where you can actually commit to helping. Lead by example and encourage your community members to spread the word in as many creative ways as you can!
- Know Your Limits and remember this is a team effort: remember we must all take care of ourselves and one another, so do not get overwhelmed with the large task at hand, Make sure you are well rested, well fed, smudged and ready to round dance and walk with our people. Also, remember this is a team effort so ask for help and let others help you get to your goal. Only commit to things you can actually do!
- Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate!: The best way to be successful is to put out a broad net of asking for help, and working cooperativley and respectfully with those who believe in your cause. They could be media partners, advocacy groups, community members, chiefs, businesses, organizations, unions or elected officials. While your add it, read Rule #3 again (know your limits when discussing your contributions!) We must learn how to work together in planning the event, to set the standard for all events that will follow, respectful, cooperative and honest.
- Stimulate conversation: on event pages, or in person, or in the advertising/promoting of your event make sure that you are stimulating conversation. Also make sure you emphasize education on the issue and provide easy access to background documents and legitimate and trustworthy resources. Also encourage celebrities, musical artists or other people to join in on the movement building!
- Be ready to Plan the follow up event(s): make sure you capitalize on having so many people cooperating together. Plan a follow up event to maintain the momentum and share the planning load with others! Build capacity in the rest of the community to organize themselves.
Now, the funny thing about these organizing tips is this…the event hasn’t even happened yet. I have learned all of these helpful items that will aid me in the follow up of this event and its corresponding spin off events, but also in my every day life as organizer for AYO! and a volunteer for many North End groups.
The best way to learn, is to simply throw yourself to the community and say “I’m here to help”/ There is more than enough work to go around. But be warned, once you learn the power of helping others, you may never be able to stop.
See you all on Monday!