Here at Neelin High School, just as in our community and communities all across Canada, the Idle No More debate is alive and well.
Stirring up strong emotions wherever it goes, this issue has brought controversy to the halls of our high school and debate into our classrooms.
There are definitely some strong opinions on the subject. Some students are very closely affiliated with the movement and can be seen sporting “Idle No More, Harper No More” slogans on their clothing, while others have been photographed at the events put on by the movement organizers here in the city.
Berrigan Miller-Harms, a Grade 9 student at Neelin, has been heavily involved in the movement since it came to Brandon. The daughter of Rev. Craig Miller of Knox United Church, she has attended many of the Idle No More events here in Brandon along with the members of her church, who have put themselves in the spotlight by openly supporting the movement.
“I think it is a very powerful and emotional experience, attending these meetings and round dances,” said Miller-Harms. “It’s amazing to see change happening and I think they have every right to get their message across.”
Reflecting the national trend, however, there are also many students in the school with negative feelings toward the movement, for a variety of reasons and with varying strength.
Whether it be the disruption of everyday life or the media monopolization early in January, these people see the movement as having negative impacts on the workings of Canadian society.
Whether those involved in the debate are in support of the movement or not, the positive outcome of the debate itself is the education it has afforded the general population. There is an abundance of information available to anyone willing to take the time to read the news and research the issue.
As many have said, this is an ongoing struggle that has been alive since the creation of the treaties in the 1700s. The issue of Indigenous sovereignty was brought to the fore front after the omnibus budget bill C-45 was passed on Dec. 14, which included amendments to the Indian Act, Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Environmental Protection Act, among others.
The educational aspect of the movement is particularly important for youth, throughout whose lifetime this issue will continue to be relevant. There has been a high level of youth involvement and support up to this point in time, which can be seen mirrored in our community.
The Brandon University Aboriginal Student Council has been an integral part of the organizing of Idle No More events in Brandon including the round dance protest on Jan. 11 and an informational meeting at the university on Jan. 29.
Whatever your position on this ongoing debate, or whether you are simply looking to learn more about Indigenous sovereignty and the omnibus budget bill, now is the perfect time to be involved. It is clear that there needs to be a change, in whatever form that might be, and hopefully, through the continued efforts of this grassroots movement and continued input from the Canadian people, an agreement can be reached and change affected to improve relations between the Canadian government and the Indigenous people of Canada.
» Annie Munroe is a Grade 12 student at Neelin High School.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 4, 2013