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Commentary: The “Idle No More” Movement in Eastern Canada

  • L. Jane McMillan (a1), Janelle Young (a2) and Molly Peters (a3)
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2 See William Wicken’s award-winning analysis of Grand Chief Sylliboy’s historic struggles in The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794–1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012).

3 The communiqués alleged that the Government of Canada violated article 25(a) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. See Sakej Henderson’s impressive body of work examining the United Nations and Aboriginal Peoples, Indigenous Diplomacy and the Rights of Peoples Achieving UN Recognition (2008). Saskatoon: Purich.

4 R v Marshall (No. 1), [1999] 3 SCR 456 and R v Marshall (No. 2), [1999] 3 SCR 533.

5 The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources is based in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia. Information regarding management plans and other natural resource activities can be found at

6 Tobique Malisset Nation Band members were never consulted and never agreed to the 1950 construction of a New Brunswick Power hydroelectric dam on their reserve. Members asked for exemption from paying electricity bills for all community members as compensation for the loss of salmon and medicinal plants as well as riverbank erosion caused by the dam. They did not receive this exemption. Anger over NB Power’s decision to deny electricity to elders galvanized the community into action. Organized by Tobique women, other members of the community, including men and children, took part in a 2008 blockade that prevented NB Power from accessing the dam. See Fawcett, Clare, Mathie, Alison & McMillan, Jane, “A Case Study of the Social Impacts of Economic Development in Tobique Maliseet Nation” in Aboriginal Measures for Economic Development (Halifax: Fernwood Press, 2012).

7 Miles Howe, “Hunger Strike Ends on Day 11, Made in Nova Scotia Process Halted,” Halifax Media Co-op, March 12, 2013,

1 L. Jane McMillan is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Communities at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish Nova Scotia. Janelle Young is a master’s student in anthropology at Dalhousie University. Molly Peters is the Aboriginal student advisor at St. Francis Xavier University and an Idle No More team facilitator for Atlantic Canada.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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