Idle No More…5 Years Later

Idle No More is a grassroots Indigenous led movement that five years ago inspired communities across the globe to stand up for mother earth. In Winnipeg, INM evolved into what we often refer to as the village. Bannock Lady Althea Guiboche inspired so many to give what they could, wherever they could, to our relatives who needed something simple like respect, and a hot meal, all in honour of the village we once had. Our community never stopped working, and our example was and is our message. I work as hard as I can as a storyteller and organizer to honour the village of yesterday and the one we are building.

Five years later, we have many groups in the village continuously challenging the main stream population to define what justice really means. To remember which traditional territory we are on and to reach out to the original inhabitants of that territory. We have many helpers still working hard to learn their language, learn ceremony and culture, and live the teachings that our knowledge keepers kept safe for us. We have many allies who are working to unlearn the lies they have been taught and are taking direction from knowledge keepers who want to help save this planet. Five years later we have learned to organize, communicate, and call people in to the circle in a kind but truthful way.

Our message is the same, but has evolved. Instead of wanting to be idle no more, where we are giving attention to the fact that some considered us idle in the past, we now say we are the village. We build up the village by sharing our gifts, we find our roles in the village by watching listening and acting where we can. We want to demonstrate we know what the solutions are and it’s something knowledge keepers have said for generations: we are all related.

Is there still a lot of work to do? Yes!! But have things changed in this country for the better for Indigenous people’s and especially Indigenous kids?? While awareness of these challenges is definitely increased, I think we all must look to the state and quality of our relationships with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people to find the answer. There are still communities that need water. There are still kids that can and should be returned to their families. There are still unprecedented levels of incarceration of indigenous peoples in federal and provincial institutions. There are still young people taking their own lives. While many will look at these factors and say we are suffering from intergenerational trauma, I would challenge those folks to realize the village is a testament to the fact that intergenerational love is stronger than the systems that tried and are trying to “kill the Indian in the child”.

We’ve come a long way but we still have a lot of work to do. If we do it together, as relatives, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, I believe we can get there! Happy birthday Idle No More, I am so grateful for this village.

P.S. check out this great interview with the 4 founders of Idle No More written by Lenard Monkman


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