Over a hundred Idle No More demonstrators shut down Dundas Street at Richmond Street in downtown London during the lunch hour on Thursday.
A group of about 300 supporters was initially expected for the march to mark a Global Day of Action. The demonstration lasted about 45 minutes and included singing, drumming and dancing.
Activist Jody Waddilove says the gathering is about First Nations overcoming obstacles.
“Trying to figure out just that we can do things, but there’s a defeatist attitude that’s been put in us right from birth that we struggle [with] all the time.”
Co-organizers Shawn Johnston says the they’re also trying raise awareness about environmental issues.
“It’s not just a First Nations issue. It’s an everybody issue. We all live here, we all drink the same water. It’s about the environment.”
But Johnston admits the general public still has little understanding of the movement, something reflected in those who spoke with CTV at the scene.
For local businesses though the demonstrations have been problematic as many avoid the traffic headache.
Bob Usher, manager of the downtown BIA, says “All of the media has been saying, ‘You might want to avoid,’ or if they weren’t exactly saying that they’re saying ‘It’s going to be difficult,’ so a lot of people didn’t bother to come downtown today.
“And it certainly has a bottom line effect. No one else is allowed to disrupt the commerce of the community the way this demonstration has been allowed to do so.”
But Waddilove says progress doesn’t come without pain, “If it means people are going to be, as you say, a little upset with us for an hour today, well so be it. We’ve been upset for 500 years.”
So far, all Idle No More events have been peaceful in nature and Thursday’s was no exception. The crowd even parted at one point to let an ambulance through.