Tiffany Sark speaks at a rally at Province House Friday. Concerns were raised about the omnibus Bill C-45 and hope to raise awareness of government actions that will impact on Mi’kmaq rights.
The federal government must consult with its citizens rather than forcing massive omnibus bills like Bill C-45 through Parliament, concerned members of P.E.I.'s aboriginal community said Friday during a protest at Province House.
Traditional aboriginal drums beats, soulful singing and signs of discontent were seen and heard loud and clear during the powerful attempt to send a message to the federal government.
Organizer Samantha Lewis, of Lennox Island, said the protest coincided with larger ones held Friday in Halifax and Cape Breton.
"A lot of us couldn't travel off Island to go and support them. We figured we could rally up some of our own people in P.E.I. and come together in unity at Province House," said Lewis.
Bill C-45, an omnibus budget bill, affects a number issues close to aboriginal community members, said Lewis. These include amendments to the Indian Act, and to legislation relating to environment, Reserve lands, waterways and the fishery.
"It's impacting our rights in environment, our rights in fisheries, our Indian Act and our waterways and land," said Lewis. "All First Nations in Canada and, more specifically our leaders and grassroots people are not being properly consulted."
The protest saw speeches from individuals in P.E.I.'s aboriginal community.
While the rally wasn't organized by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I., a letter of support from the Confederacy was read aloud to protesters.
"(The Confederacy) is very supportive of aboriginal community members expressing their concern and raising awareness of government actions that will impact on Mi'kmaq rights," said a release from the confederacy to media.
The protest also saw drummers from both the Lennox Island based New Generation Singers and Scotchfort's Lone Cry Singers perform throughout the afternoon.
Gilbert Sark, drum keeper for the New Generation Singers, said while the group hasn't participated in a protest since 1997, it felt it was important to attend the protest due to the size of the bill and how it impacts on all Canadians.
"It is infringing on a lot of First Nations, for that matter on a lot of Canadian people's rights," said Sark. "It (the protest) is basically to tell the government 'wake up and start the consultations'.
"When something like this comes up and you've got all of Canada from one coast to the other coast protesting, it's a big deal."
The protest has also aligned itself to a national campaign entitled Idle No More, which "calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water."
Lewis said more information on the movement can be found www.idlenomore1.blogspot.ca.