TORONTO – On the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, on October 7, the Idle No More movement took to the streets in over 50 places across Turtle Island and beyond to show the world that the movement for Indigenous rights has not faded. “We haven’t gathered here to celebrate that document which has led to the loss of so much of our land,” said one INM speaker.
In Toronto, over a hundred people gathered for a Unity in Action event under the specific theme “We Have the Right To Say NO”. Many denounced the Harper government for advancing policies of colonization that trace back to 1763 and before. Aaron Detlor of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute reminded the Toronto rally that we were gathered in the traditional treaty territory of the Beaver Hunting Grounds. “As a Haudenosaunee person,” Detlor proclaimed, “I am tired of asking. The time for asking is over.”
Canadian colonialism was hit from an international angle as well. Suraia Sahar, a young Afghani activist, brought it to people’s attention that it was twelve years ago to the day that Canada and other NATO-member countries invaded and occupied Afghanistan: “The Canadian military is still an occupying force in my native land of Afghanistan.” Sahar was flanked by fellow anti-war activist, Jules Tingangan, a Filipino-Canadian who is a veteran of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Tingangan denounced Canada’s role in Afghanistan, in which he was a direct participant, and announced his support for all peoples under occupation: “They sent me to another country to kill brown people just like me.”
The gathering also served to educate participants on the Two Row Wampum. Speaker Davyn Calfchild stated, “Everyone needs to learn about the Two Row and the nation-to-nation relationships it represents. It’s not just for Native people, it’s for non-Native people too.”
Through speakers and music, cold rain poured down. But when the final words were being spoken, sunshine broke through the clouds and a full rainbow framed the gathering. Under the newly pink sky, dozens of people lifted a 100-foot Two Row Wampum to begin a march from the westside residential neighbourhood near Trinity Bellwoods Park into the downtown core.