If you happened to be passing the corner of Akard and San Jacinto Monday night, the huge, blue LED lights spelling out "IDLE NO MORE" might have left you nonplussed.
It was no coincidence that the demonstration, known as a light brigade, took place within a stone's throw of the Canadian consulate general's office. The group of Native Americans and non-Natives from across North Texas may have been small -- maybe a couple dozen -- but it's a tentacle of a much larger movement protesting what they call the wholesale violation of treaties with Canada's First Nations people by their federal government.
At issue is an omnibus bill that would relax restrictions on development around their ancestral waterways and allow construction of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil mined in Alberta, through British Columbia and to the Pacific, where it will be shipped off to China.
On the line for the tar sands industry are potential billions of dollars in exports. It's the very same stuff the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry to the Gulf Coast.
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The message the First Nations and their supporters here in North Texas and elsewhere want to telegraph is that the Canadian government can't simply rewrite the law around a sovereign people.
"We're showing them we hear you down here, and we're here for you," said Yolanda Blue Horse, a nurse in McKinney and a member of the Lakota Oyate. "This generation just cannot sit back and be quiet no more. We're not going to sit idle no more. We're finding our voice once again.
"They say this is the seventh generation. It was the White Buffalo Calf Woman who said it'd be the seventh generation who decided whether or not the people would live or die."
"Idle No More" demonstrations have been held in places as far off as Vienna, Poland and Sicily, and as close as Oklahoma City.