Rally and highway blockade planned

Idle No More events a show of solidarity as chiefs meet Harper

Protesters plan to rally in Kamloops and Cache Creek Friday in a show of Idle No More solidarity as aboriginal chiefs meet in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

An 11 a.m. rally at Lansdowne Mall, a march through downtown Kamloops and a noon information blockade of Hwy. 97 near Cache Creek are part of what is billed as a "global day of action, solidarity and resurgence," according to the website j11action.com.

"I'm hoping we have more than we had last time," said Lenora Starr, one of the organizers of the march. "I imagine 100-plus people."

If native elders join them, they will confine the march to the downtown core, she added.

Evelyn Camille, the former Tk'emlups band councillor who went on a hunger strike in support of Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa, plans to attend both events. Camille began eating soup on Thursday after ending her strike.

"I did an extra couple of days just to make sure the talks would come out in a good way with the chiefs," she said. "Some of our local chiefs are talking about how they'll support (the Ottawa meetings)."

Bonaparte Chief Terry Porter is one of those who stand firmly behind Spence and the Idle No More protests, specifically over concerns about changes in environmental regulations that were part of the federal government's omnibus bill.

The band is faced with proposed coal and copper mines in the vicinity of the community. This has given rise to concerns that the village may have to relocate.

"The mines are very close to the reserve," Porter said. "If they eliminate or go slack on environmental protocols, it would cause a big concern for the band," he added, citing watershed and fishery concerns.

Nina Minnabarriet, a Bonaparte band councillor helping to organize the information blockade in Cache Creek, said they will stop motorists on one side of Hwy. 97 and hand them information leaflets, but traffic will be allowed to proceed.

"The mining companies are coming in and doing exploration without consultation with the band," Minnabarriet said. "That's a no-no. For us, it's about having people made aware of our title and rights, and supporting Chief Theresa Spence and all nations."

The Kamloops rally will include two information sessions - at 9 a.m. and noon in the Peaks Room at Hotel 540.

Camille was optimistic about the outcome of today's meetings in Ottawa despite the complexity of the issues at hand.

"I feel the direction it's going is very good. It's looking positive. It's a Harper thing. It's not a good thing, so what is he trying to do? Dictate to us?"

Camille said she has a meeting on Monday with MP Cathy McLeod about the legislation. She hopes the issues can be addressed but they can't be dealt with in omnibus form.

"Separate issues instead of throwing that one big book at us."

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