Idle No More is no more, says founder of NAAF.
He made this statement in his keynote speech at a dinner March 5 hosted by the I Do Business National Aboriginal Summit and Tradeshow at the Doubletree Hotel in Toronto. Bell is Mohawk and is the founder of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
At the end of his half-hour talk, Bell was challenged by 73-year-old Margaret Cozry, an Ojibway Toronto-based businesswoman of some 40 years standing.
"I would like to know, John," Cozry said, "why you are suggesting that Idle No More is dead."
Bell said the national media is no longer reporting on Idle No More as they were months ago and it's no longer a national issue "because it didn't have a focus".
He referenced Globe and Mail writers Jeffrey Simpson and John Ibbitson who said there were rallies, there was unrest, but no one was telling us what we should do exactly.
Bell said there may be "rallies and get-togethers and everything, but what is missing is the plan." He went on. to say that "polls have shown the government that some of the Canadian people turned against the Idle No More movement for various reasons. It was going on too long. There were no real answers."
Cozry said the movement is still going on and that in most of the meetings she'd attended most of the people are non-Native that are going."
Chastising Bell for his remarks by saying, "we have to have our young people believe that its going to come on strong again. This is a real big hope for our young people ... and we just don't want to hear it said that Idle No More is dead."
One young person who had found Idle No More to be life-giving, strengthening and inspiring is Quninn Meawasige. He is a 19-year-old citizen of Serpent River First Nation in northern Ontario. He's also an elected band councillor and he was in Toronto to attend the Chiefs of Ontario Special Assembly on Treaties March 6 and March 7.
When asked if he agreed with Bell's assessment about Idle no More, he opened his jacket revealing his Idle No More T-shirt and was quick to reply "It's not even close to being dead ...
"It's much more alive than it has ever been. And the impact it's made within our communities? It's been amazing and quite exciting to see and be a pan of. So for him to say it's dead? I think he needs to go to one of these events and maybe he won't say it's dead anymore."
Meawasige was not familiar with John Kim Bell.
Meawasige said Idle No More is a grassroots movement and that it's actually gone deep into the roots of the communities.
"We see individual communities are starting to move and gather," he said, "and the youth are starting to work amongst each other as a result of Idle No More."
A group of youth from the community went to a rally on Parliament Hill, he said, and "just the result of diem being there, they brought that spirit of Idle No More back to the community?
They were inspired to take action, preparing brochures to hand out at a traffic slow-down and printing T-shirts.
"It's really opening doors," he said, "and the youth are thinking about the future, about the land. And they want their culture back and they're talking about language retention, and you know, they're gonna do whatever it takes."
The youth have also decided to do some fundraising so they can connect with the Elders of their community by hosting a free pancake breakfast for them.
"That's the spirit of Idle No More!" Meawasige said.
It's not dead.
By Barb Nahwegahbow
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|Title Annotation:||idle no more; John Kim Bell of National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2013|
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