The founders of Idle No More joined a prestigious list this month as Foreign Policy magazine named the women to its top 100 global thinkers list.
The list includes Pope Francis, 16-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Idle No More founders Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson began the now-global movement in Saskatoon last year by hosting a small teach-in at Station 20 West. The teach-in was to protest the federal government’s proposed omnibus budget bill, C-45.
The bill, which was more than 400 pages long and which passed last December, was criticized by many Idle No More protestors, stating it infringed upon First Nations land and treaty rights.
“Before long, #IdleNoMore was trending on Twitter, and protests under the same name spread across Canada. Solidarity demonstrations also occurred in the United States, Europe, and Australia,” an excerpt from Foreign Policy magazine reads.
Idle No More jumped to the national stage last Dec. 10 with National Day of Action. The day saw several rallies held across Canada. On Tuesday, marches took place across the country, including at Parliament Hill, to mark the movement’s anniversary.
This is the fifth year Foreign Policy magazine has released the list.
The full entry on the four Idle No More founders from Foreign Policy magazine’s web site reads:
Last winter, what started as a flurry of emails among four Saskatchewan women grew into a robust grassroots movement. The women—Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean, and Nina Wilson—were corresponding about a budget bill that would affect land management on the reservations of Canada’s indigenous communities, called First Nations. Believing the bill challenged First Nations’ sovereignty and weakened environmental protections, they organized a meeting of local activists. Gordon called the Facebook page that resulted from the meeting “Idle No More” as a reminder that the community had to “get off the couch and start working.”
Before long, #IdleNoMore was trending on Twitter, and protests under the same name spread across Canada. Solidarity demonstrations also occurred in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The protests in particular targeted Canada’s extractive industries, asserting that new pipelines and other projects would destroy land and disrupt ecosystems. One protest delayed exploratory drilling in British Columbia.
More recently, Idle No More staged nationwide demonstrations on Oct. 7 to mark 250 years since the British Royal Proclamation, which created guidelines for European settlement of indigenous territories in North America. Supporters say the movement also continues to give a voice to an often overlooked population. “People weren’t willing to listen to our issues,” First Nations blogger Chelsea Vowel said in October, “unless a white person said them.”