#Idenomore Chief Spence can be forgiven if she needs the prime minister’s ear for a few moments. How can there be $28 million to market an ancient war and no money to provide clean drinking water for aboriginal communities? How can you set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and then force it to go to court over access to crucial documents? How can there be $50 million for gazebos in Muskoka but not enough for basic housing in Attawapiskat? And how can Canada be the sixth most developed country in the world and our indigenous peoples sixty-sixth? No one should bet the farm that the prime minister will meet the chief. On the other hand, Stephen Harper should bear in mind that you can’t starve an idea — no, not even in Harperland.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world. Much of this uprising began when Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper rammed through Parliament an omnibus bill gutting environmental reviews and protections. He had no choice if he wanted to keep developing Canada’s tar sands, because there’s no possible way to mine and pipe that sludgy crude without fouling lakes and rivers. (Indeed, a study released a few days ago made clear that carcinogens had now found their way into myriad surrounding lakes). And so, among other things, the omnibus bill simply declared that almost every river, stream and lake in the country was now exempt from federal environmental oversight. Canada’s environmental community protested in all the normal ways – but they had no more luck than, say, America’s anti-war community in the run up to Iraq. There’s trillions of dollars of oil locked up in Alberta’s tarsands, and Harper’s fossil-fuel backers won’t be denied. But there’s a stumbling block they hadn’t counted on, and that was the resurgent power of the Aboriginal Nations. Some Canadian tribes have signed treaties with the Crown, and others haven’t, but none have ceded their lands, and all of them feel their inherent rights are endangered by Harper’s power grab. They are, legally and morally, all that stand in the way of Canada’s total exploitation of its vast energy and mineral resources, including the tar sands, the world’s second largest pool of carbon. NASA’s James Hansen has explained that burning that bitumen on top of everything else we’re combusting will mean it’s “game over for the climate.” Which means, in turn, that Canada’s First Nations are in some sense standing guard over the planet.
For many people involved with the movements, the biggest victory that emerged from Idle No More was the connections it forged among activists across the country — both indigenous and non-indigenous — that lay the groundwork for future actions.

In addition to any hope we might see in an emerging cohesive politicized labour movement, the activist organizational possibilities - the power - for change generated outside the system lie with Canada’s first people and their will to persevere.