Aboriginals to bring economy ‘to its knees’

Aboriginals to bring economy ‘to its knees’

OTTAWA - Reuters
Aboriginals to bring economy ‘to its knees’

Protestors from ‘Idle No More’ block Canada’s border with the US. REUTERS photo

Native Canadians are so angry that they could resort to blocking resource development and bring the economy “to its knees” unless the Conservative government addresses their grievances, an influential chief said Jan. 10.

Native Canadian chiefs were scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Jan. 11 to discuss the poor living conditions facing many of Canada’s 1.2 million aboriginals. “We have had enough. Our young people have had enough. Our women have had enough.... We have nothing left to lose,” said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.

“These are demands, not requests,” said Nepinak. “The Idle No More movement has the people, it has the people and the numbers, that can bring the Canadian economy to its knees. It can stop Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s resource development plan,” Nepinak said.

Activists have already blockaded some rail lines and threatened to close Canada’s borders with the U.S. in a campaign they call “Idle No More.” Canada has 633 separate native “bands,” each of which have their own communities and lands.

The chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the aboriginal umbrella group, said his members had come to a tipping point. “We will drive the final stake in the heart of colonialism and it will happen in this generation,” Shawn Atleo said. Native Canadian leaders say they want more federal money, a greater say over what happens to resources on their land and more respect from the federal government.