Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow gave a keynote speech at the Idle No More Youth Forum in downtown Ottawa this morning. She shared the story of the well-known Bolivian water-warrior Oscar Olivera who recently expressed his solidarity with Idle No More. Olivera has written, “Your struggle, brothers and sisters from the North, is our struggle. You are not alone.” And she talked about the struggle of the Indigenous Huichol peoples in Mexico to protect the Wirikuta - ‘the place where the sun was born’ - from the environmental devastation that would come from a proposed Canadian-owned mine on their sacred lands. Barlow also highlighted the threat posed by the Harper agenda and in particular his C-45 legislation that reduces environmental protections and further opens the way for corporations to expand the tar sands, build more pipelines, and open new mines. She noted that many of these environmentally-devastating resource extraction projects are to be on or run through First Nations territories, and she thanked the Idle No More movement and First Nations leaders for their opposition to C-45. She highlighted that First Nations leadership, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights may be the last bulwark in stopping the Harper agenda. Barlow also highlighted that Harper’s assault on Mother Earth is not just taking place in Canada, but around the world. She talked about Canadian-owned mines in Guatemala, Mexico and throughout Latin America and Harper’s dashing of legislative and community efforts to hold those corporations accountable to the public interest, as well as his linking of CIDA funding to ‘partnerships’ between mining companies and development groups. She concluded by noting that Common Causes, a new broad-based movement, is being formed to stop the Harper agenda. Other speakers at the Youth Forum this morning included Michelle Audette, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; Angela Dawn Bercier, lead organizer for Chief Theresa Spence's Hunger Strike; Gabrielle Fayant; Mark Gowland, Chief Spence camp helper; and Juliette Linklater, daughter of Chief Spence. For more on the Idle No More Youth Forum, please see their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/492018124173405/. Oscar Olivera’s statement of solidarity with Idle No More can be read at http://idlenomore.ca/index.php/articles/latest-news/national-news/item/124-support-from-oscar-olivera-bolivia. More on the Wirikuta struggle can be found at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17988. Council of Canadians blogs in solidarity with Idle No More are at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22idle+no+more%22.
Barlow speaks at the INM Youth Forum this morning. Photo by Brent Patterson.