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Idle No More blockades continue

Jessica Hume. (Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY)

By Jessica Hume, National Bureau

Idle No More protesters on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 2, 2013. (QMI Agency)

Idle No More protesters on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 2, 2013. (QMI Agency)

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OTTAWA — Rotating blockades will hit various railways, highways and border crossings later this month as the Idle No More gears up for long-term fighting.

Unconfirmed media reports mark Jan. 16 as the launch date for "indefinite economic disruptions".

Several blockades have already taken place in Sarnia, Ont., as well as along the busy Toronto-Montreal corridor. Another major blockade is planned at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey, B.C., Saturday.

Blockades are not a new tactic for First Nations, whose past actions have caused million-dollar losses.

Spokespeople for CN, CP and Via railways declined to "speculate" on the impact of the blockades, but with both transcontinental lines running through Native land, they will almost certainly be affected.

The Idle No More movement has no central organization; actions are planned by individual bands. The movement began as solidarity for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence - who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11 in the hopes of forcing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with her - but has expanded beyond its original mandate.

Jan O'Driscoll, spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, reiterated the government's position that working together should be the goal.

Senator Patrick Brazeau said many of First Nations' grievances have merit, but added that many of those issues could be dealt with within those communities.

"I get complaints that these people can't get in touch with their chiefs, that there's no process in place. At the federal level, there is a process in place but we see that it isn't always respected."

 


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