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History of Idle No More

History of Idle No More Grassroots Movement

Idle No More began with 4 ladies; Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon & Sheelah McLean who felt it was urgent to act on current and upcoming legislation that not only affects our First Nations people but the rest of Canada's citizens, lands and waters.

The focus is on grassroots voices, treaty and sovereignty, it began in the early part of October when discussing Bill C 45.  All 4 women knew that this was a time to act, as this bill and other proposed legislation would affect not only Indigenous people but also the lands, water and the rest of Canada
With the focus on the most urgent bill knowing it would initiate attention to all other legislation, the 4 ladies held rallies and teach-ins to generate discussion and provide information. They then decided a nation wide event was garnered so all could participate, thus, The National Day of Solidarity & Resurgence was called for December 10th, 2012, to oppose all legislation and to build solidarity while asserting inherent rights and nationhood while protecting our lands for all people.

These colonial forms of legislation that the government expects to unilaterally impose on us has brought us together, to stand together - Jessica Gordon


(December 10, 2012) 

Less than three weeks ago, 4 women from Saskatchewan (Indigenous and non Indigenous) decided that they could no longer stay silent in the face of what is a legislative attack on First Nation people and the lands and waters across the country. Together, Sylvia McAdam, Jess Gordon, Nina Wilson and Sheelah Mclean started organizing ‘teach-ins’ in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert to start bringing awareness to Bill C 45 Says McAdam, 

“Bill C 45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country.” 

The Bill brings forward changes specifically to the Indian Act that will lower the threshold of community consent in the designation and surrender process of Indian Reserve Lands.  McLean reminds that bill is about everyone.  She says “the changes they are making to the environmental legislation is stunning in terms of the protections it will take away from the bodies of water – rivers and lakes, across the country".  She further adds, “ how can we not all be concerned about that?” 

The Idle No More efforts then continued in Alberta with an information meeting held at the Louis Bull Cree Nation.  The organizer for that event, Tanya Kappo, took to Twitter and Facebook to help generate awareness on the matter as the passage of Bill C45 was imminent.  Kappo says, “the people in our communities had absolutely no idea what we were facing, no idea what plans Stephen Harper had in store for us.”  The events leading up to the National Day of Action have been focused on bringing awareness to people in First Nations communities and the rest of Canada.  Jess Gordon says, “The essence of the work we are doing and have been doing will remain a grassroots effort, and will continue to give a forum to the voices of our people.” 

When Bill C45 was brought to the House of Commons for a vote, First Nations leaders demonstrated that they are hearing these voices loud and clear.  They joined the efforts against Bill C 45 and went to Parliament Hill where they were invited into the House of Commons by the New Democratic Party.  However, they were refused entry.  This refusal to allow First Nations leadership to respectfully enter the House of Commons triggered an even greater mobilization of First Nation people across the country.  Nina Wilson says, “what we saw on Parliament Hill was a true reflection of what the outright disregard the Harper Government has towards First Nation people.”  

The passage of Bill C45, Idle No More has come to symbolize and be the platform to voice the refusal of First Nations people to be ignored any further by any other Canadian government. 

The National Day of Action for Idle No More will mark the point in history when the generations and centuries of the refusal to acknowledge the relationship stops. 

Janice Makokis contributes her energies towards the Idle No More efforts and says, “We continue to honour our traditional ways and our ancestors and always begin our efforts in that spirit.”  People across the country have mobilized in that same spirit and have taken it upon themselves to create the space for their own voices.

On Monday, December 10... First Nations people and their allies will stand in solidarity across the country in more than 13 locations: Vancouver, Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Stand Off, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Goose Bay-Happy Valley.

Other legislation on its way through the legislative process that will directly affect First Nation people:

  • Bill C-27 First Nations Financial Transparency Act
  • Bill S-2 Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Right Act
  • Bill S-6 First Nations Elections Act
  • Bill S-8 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
  • Bill C-428 Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act
  • Bill S-207 An Act to amend the Interpretation Act
  • Bill S-212 First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill and the “First Nations” Private Ownership Act

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Thank you to Tanya Cappo for composing Backgrounder


Idle No More 2012

Published on YouTube Dec 6, 2012 by Dawn Marie Marchand

I woke up this morning very early. When you feel this driven but this voiceless...there is always something that you can do that might at least make yourself feel better. I took my crappy laptop; stole my daughter's iphone and put together this awful moviemaker thingy. I hope it is an example of something that can get people motivated to do their own videos. Take this idea and run with it.


FOOD for Indigenous Thought

Words of Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum, one of the founding members of Idle No More

“The bravest man was the man who could make peace, who could carry the oskitci (pipe stem).” I wanted to share some few nehiyaw thoughts and teachings with all of you, my relatives ..ahpisis. I don’t say I know a lot, I only know a little bit and this what it is. What I say here is in our law of tahpewin (truth), do not be offended. The words I share here are from Elders, not mine personally as a human being. As we go into this “resistance”, we can no longer be silent - its not an option. In Canadian law, acquiescence means you comply, your silence is consent. We must not be silent with what is happening, it is not a far fetched statement when we say we are under attack and so are the lands, resources and our children. I’ve heard many of my relatives say “yes, I will be there” but they don’t attend the rally/event/gathering/ceremony etc. Perhaps the reasons are legitimate, however in our nehiyaw weyeswewna (Cree laws), when we say we going to do something, the spirit world listens, your keepers listen and our ancestors listen. When we say we are going to go “support”, we mean “e we ni towh setohks ka ke yak”.. this term means we are doing more than supporting, our keepers, spirits etc are going too, so the ones that are listening will begin to “pave” the journey there for you so you may arrive safe and unharmed. When we don’t follow through with our plans, than our keepers will have set the path for that journey for nothing. When a person does this far too many times, than you are “e pah kachimayak”, which means “to purposely mislead, dishonest, unsupportive..” this word is difficult to translate into English. This action is contrary to nehiyaw weyeswewna therefore you are breaking laws when you do not follow through with your statements to support. After a while, the keepers and those that listen will not listen to you anymore or are hard pressed to trust you. Those times when you do need them, it will be harder for your keepers to listen. Keep this in mind as you go about your life. As well, before you attend this “teach in” or rally, I would suggest that you smudge and pray or just pray in your own way. What we are doing is invoking the warrior spirits of our women and men. Not to fight but to defend. In our laws; this is “e na tah maw was sew yak” which means “defending the children/generations “. We are not only defending the human children, it is all of the plant relatives, tree relatives, animal relatives etc that we defend. This is a nehiyaw law, it is invoked in times of great crisis. See that statement above about the pipe? The Elders say, anyone can make war & violence. The greatest achievement a warrior women or man can do is to create peace during a time of crisis. It takes great skill to negotiate and accomplish what needs to be done in a peaceful manner. Lets gather together peacefully but make a powerful stand. Lets us not be silent.

Ekosi, kinanaskomtinawaw for reading this.

Read more about Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum: First Nations' culture shared by Sask. author


A Humble Request From A Tired Old Warrior

Jessica Gordon posted on Idle No More - Edmonton Facebook Event Page but intended for all

Please Read and share with your people. This was sent to me from a dear friend.

"This is a humble request from a tired old warrior from the Canoe Lake Cree Nation(s).

To all Pipe Carriers, Sweat Lodge Operators, Keepers of Medicine Bundles and People gifted with various ceremonies. Oskapisak, please have sacred fires burning from sunset to sunrise on the day before the 10th of December and the day before the 21st of December/12. I'm asking for "Prayers" for the Young Women and Men (Idle No More) who have worked tirelessly in opposing the various bills affecting our treaties and "Mother Earth" and the various gift from the Creator, that have sustained us from the beginning of time. This we do for our Children, GrandChildren and Children, not yet born. We call ourselves, warriors, are we willing to give up our lives for Mother Earth and Future Generations. I do this with a heavy heart and have broken down and cried and apologized for not haven't done enough for Mother Earth and the Children not born.

We are going to do a pipe ceremony on the eve of the 20th/12 and have a Sacred Fire burning till sunrise on the day of the rally in Ottawa on the 21st of Dec/12 in support of the Young Women and Men of Idle no More. I would like so much to be with you in Ottawa, but due to circumstances, I'm unable. Get this request out there using any media available. Send it right across Turtle Island, to our Sisters and Brothers south of us and all of our supporters. Let me at this time, Thank you all for all you have done, stay strong.

Viva "Mother Earth"


When Treaty people gather to speak of land, water and air; a sacred protocol is invoked and followed, guided by the laws of each of the Indigenous Nations. 

Amendment: Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Pipes will be lifted for the Idle No More gathering; this will signify peace between two Nations and with the Creator. The presence of a pipe at any event is followed by the pipe laws of gentleness, compassion and mutual respect.

As well, the ladies attending are "encouraged" to honor the Ancient Indigenous Women’s Sacred Teachings of honoring woman's empowering gift of creation by wearing a dress to the length of their ankles (non-colonial or oppressive teachings but in the most humblest sense).

All are welcome to attend and share in prayer for solidarity and unity always in Treaty and Sovereignty.

kinanaskom'tin mistahiy...hiy hiy

Sylvia McAdam Saysewajum
(Cultural Teachings: First Nation protocols and methodologies)


  1. Thank you strong woman for making a stand

  2. Chi Miigwetch for the amendment.

  3. need this website shared more! i was not aware of this situation until December 8th. i am from north battleford area, and the turn out was great.

  4. Grassroots movements are the only way common people have to change the course of history and we must not stop until this battle is won against Harper and his gang! Thank you to the strong women who have initiated and will sustain this movement albeit with the support of men. Bless us and our future generations and the land which keeps us alive.

  5. May this movement be the answer to bringing together all people on this Planet to defend our Mother Earth, her water, her air, and her nurture! This is a great beginning and will not end until we are all united. Instead of being overwhelmed by corporate and government institutional takeovers, let us overwhelm this Planet with Love for her and each other. Institutions are not people, they are systems and machines. The people in those machines also need to live on a healthy Earth. They live in fear of embracing a different way of life, of letting go of the institutions that have so long governed them. What these institutions need is a philosophy by which they operate: ""What we love, we take care of, and allow no harm!" Then all of us will be able to live and work well together. It could be so simple!

  6. Collectively and cooperatively are two practices and values that all people must try if our planet is to provide for the yet unborn.Thank-you for everything you are doing.

  7. I still don't fully understand what this is all about....


  9. Thank you for this site. I too am feeling the need to teach others about my path of herbal healing, real foods and ways to live in harmony with our Mother Earth.

  10. We in Lac du Flambeau, WI have been preparing for hard times ahead by building a food co-op to support Native food growers and producers. We need to be self sufficient in many ways and this is one way that will empower our people to exert sovereignty. For more information please email or myself at
    I am a registered tribal member and I understand that we need to start working together and come up with a long term plan to be who we are meant to be. I'm so happy to see Idle No More and group efforts. I am currently living in Tallahassee Florida and will help in as much capacity as I can. I am learning the Ojibwe language and culture as I did not grow up on the reservation so I welcome any educational opportunities. Megwetch.


Thank you for your comment and please help spread the word, the time is NOW!