Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Sacred Journey For Future Generations: Marching for Human Rights

Nancy Greyeyes, Winston Wuttunee
& Robert-Falcon Ouellette
Earth Day Celebrations
Thunderbird House, Winnipeg MB
21 April 2013

Nancy Cycil Greyeyes originally a marcher with A Sacred Journey For Future Generations (under the guidance of Bruce McKenzie)  is now walking with another group Journey for Earth going into the populated areas of Ontario. These groups have been marching from Stanley Mission (Saskatchewan) to Toronto to Ottawa; a trek of over 3450 km between March 16-June 21.   

In an interview with Nancy Cycil Greyeyes (Cree) from Muskeg Lake Cree First Nation we talk about why she has put her life on hold to march to Ottawa. She is concerned about Idle No more and the lack of consultation that federal government has used to pass laws which she terms illegal. She feel that there is an illegality in the governments actions in passing Bill C-45 which will lead to the destruction of the environment, because there was no free and informed consent on the part of First Nations people. Nancy talks about how it will be the seven generation who will have it hardest because when the water can no longer be used or you can no longer feed yourself on the land, that generation will have nothing. We had our conversation during the groups arrival in Winnipeg on April 22, 2013 during earth Day celebrations. They had marched from Central Park to the Forks (Oneda Circle for a ceremony) and on to Thunderbird House where a feast was held late into the night. We talked beside Winston Wuttunee (Cree Elder) and Arden Ogg (photo taken Arden).

I asked Nancy about Idle No More (INM) and wanted to know if she felt that INM had made an error in talking about treaty. Many Canadians see the idea of treaty as special rights and some are very opposed to treaty for this reason. I asked should INM have been talking about Human Rights translate the terms into something that the average Canadian can understand. Nancy said "treaty is not just about the land, between men it is between all of creation. We have Treaty with the animals, the moose, the birds, the water, the land. We have broken our part of the Treaties" and we will suffer for breaking the Treaties. This is why Nancy walks.

Why is it that Natives March? Why do they not stay at home and protest, why do they walk thousands of km to go and see the "Great White Father"? As an anthropologist this is perhaps the most interesting aspect of INM. Instead of having a riot and destroying property Natives they walk and bring an angry message based founded on peace about promises that have not been respected and the injustice of the system. In 2010 I walked with Michele Audette and her Marche AMUM (Quebec City to Ottawa) marching for changes in the Indian Act and the rights of women and the children. I have interviewed Leo Bastawang about his March4Justice (2012) and the Indian Act as a colonial piece of legislation or the The Journey of Nishiyuu (2013) from the Cree community of Whapmagoostui walked to Ottawa inspired about INM and Bill C-45. 

As the Indigenous peoples we continue to march and demand justice through action. 

Sacred Journey Walkers
on the banks of The Assiniboine River.
16/04/2013 Idle No More
photo by Nancy Greyeyes


Ouellette, Robert-Falcon. (Director) (2013. April 21). At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research. A Sacred Journey For Future Generations [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.attheedgeofcanada.com  
Ouellette, Robert-Falcon, dir. "A Sacred Journey For Future Generations." At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research.. N.p., 26 April 2013. web. April 21, 2013. < http://www.attheedgeofcanada.com ›


  1. Recently, Idle No More organized a day for protests and bringing attention to their movement. On October seventh the movement organized for as many as 63 protests as well as other events occurring in twelve different countries (“Idle No More prepares for day of action,” 2013). This movement seems to have gained momentum as well as attention from people across Canada. In this movement the Aboriginal are fighting for their rights that accompany their treaties. One of the movement activists, Niigaan Sinclair, also commented that the movement is also to help relations between the Aboriginal people and Canada; it is not just about the Aboriginals keeping their rights, although that is an important and essential aspect as well. (“Idle No More prepares for day of action,” 2013). This is an admirable goal and an area where a lot of progress needs to be made. The relationship between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals is definitely not perfect and requires work.
    The Aboriginals are fighting for their rights, but what is so great about this movement is that they are going about it in a peaceful way. The Aboriginals are participating in a peaceful revolution, which almost does not seem possible. When we examine history, most of the revolutions that have occurred have been filled with violence; this is not the case with this movement. They are gaining the attention of media and perhaps the government just through marching. I believe that it is a good sign that the Aboriginals are taking a stand and trying to change the way things are operated. If something with the treaties changes it is up to the Aboriginal people to stand up and do their best to change the situation. This is what the Idle No More movement is doing. We are seeing the Aboriginals take action, and as the name of their movement states, they are no longer standing by idly. They feel that they have been wronged and refuse to let it pass by unnoticed.