“Idle No More” A Growing Movement

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r.a. paterson
Protestors took to the streets in Victoria in support of the Idle No More movement. Image: r.a. paterson

For nearly a month Theresa Spence, Chief of the community of Attawapiskat, has been protesting the way First Nations people are treated in northern Ontario.

Spence has not eaten any solid food for about 30 days. This type of protest is called a “hunger strike.” During a hunger strike, people stop eating in order to make a peaceful protest about something they believe in. Spence is consuming only liquids, like water and broth.

Spence said she will not end her hunger strike until Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her to discuss First Nations rights. Last week, Harper said he will meet with First Nations leaders on Jan. 11. (Spence hasn’t said whether she will end her hunger strike on Jan. 11.)

Last December, First Nations people in Ontario also formed a protest movement called Idle No More. It calls on the federal government to honour a treaty (agreement) they made in 2012 concerning aboriginal rights in Northern Ontario.

The Idle No More movement has grown and spread across Canada. Last weekend, Idle No More protesters—including First Nations, Metis and Inuit people as well as non-Aboriginal supporters—gathered in public places across the country where they danced and chanted.

The Idle No More movement is a peaceful protest created by the people, with no specific leader.

In the last year or so, a number of “grassroots” movements have been in the news. Some were violent, like Arab Spring, when countries in the Middle East protested their lack of freedom. Even though many people were killed and injured, many of the dictators were overthrown.

People involved in the Occupy movement camped on public land to protest the difference between the rich and the poor. The movement received a lot of attention; however, it’s unclear whether anything specific happened as a result of it.

In Quebec, students cut classes and blocked streets after the government increased their university fees. Fights broke out with police. The protest gained attention from the media and from other students across North America. Then-Premier Jean Charest called an election and when a new premier was elected she immediately promised to lower the fees.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Theresa Spence’s hunger strike is a powerful but peaceful form of protest. The Arab Spring was an example of a powerful and violent protest. Which form of protest is more affective at achieving change? Why do you think so?

Reading Prompt: Analysing Texts
Today’s article reminds readers that 2012 was a year full of protests. Why do you think the author included this information in today’s article about Idle No More? Why might the author have chosen to make this connection? How does this affect the way you understand today’s article?

Identify specific elements of texts and explain how they contribute to the meaning of the texts (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Analyse texts and explain how various elements in them contribute to meaning (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Analyse oral texts in order to evaluate how effectively they communicate ideas, opinions, themes, or experiences, and suggest possible improvements (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Grammar Feature: Heterograph
Ever wonder what a heterograph is? I didn’t think so, but you might be amazed to know that we encounter them all the time when reading and writing. Heterographs are two or more words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently and that have different meanings. For example, the words, “idol, idyl, and idle” are heterographs because although they are all pronounced the same way (i-dol), they all have different meanings.

Create heterographs from the words below by adding as many words as you can.

1. To _________________________________________________________

2. Oar ________________________________________________________

3. Rowed ______________________________________________________

4. Seas ________________________________________________________

5. Yore ________________________________________________________