The upper level of the Rupert Square Mall was packed on the evening of Jan. 11 as protesters came out for another Idle No More rally.
Speakers voiced their frustration with the actions of the Federal Government, and in particular Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in relation to Aboriginal rights and the omnibus budget bill that makes changes to the environmental assessment process.
“They are trying to take away our land and our water… We are still here and we are telling you it is not for sale. Harper can have his oil, but we will still have our land,” said Stan Dennis Sr.
“On behalf of the Tsimshian people of the North Coast: You are breaking our laws,” added Murray Smith.
Gerald Stewart called for Aboriginal people across the country to stand up and send a message to the government.
“It takes all of us to come together to preserve our rights and our self-esteem… They have been waiting a long time until they think we are weak, and maybe we are. They are ignoring us and we need to stand together,” he said.
“My hope is for the future of my children and their children so that there is something here for them… We have nowhere else to go, so we must make a stand.”
Three mall security and two RCMP officers were on the scene and when one of the constables asked organizers to take the rally outside the group performed a prayer song in memory of Kevin Brian from Lax Kw’alaams before drumming out of the mall.
“We are a peaceful nation, we are not here to wreck anything or disturb anyone. We just want our voices heard,” said Smith, who repeatedly stressed the importance or protesting in a respectful way.
Once outside, Smith and Dennis led the procession through downtown Prince Rupert.