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Idle No More Targets North America's Busiest Border

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IDLE NO MORE
Native protesters from the Idle No More movement dance in a drum circle blocking an intersection in downtown London, Ontario, Thursday, January 10, 2013. Protesters in Windsor plan to target the Ambassador Bridge linking the city to Detroit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins | CP

People participating in the Idle No More movement plan to target the Ambassador Bridge next week.

Members of the movement are organizing what they call "an economic slowdown" in Windsor on Jan. 16. Organizers insist it's "not a blockade."

"We don’t want to inconvenience people too much. But we want to be in places that are going to get us noticed and allow us to get our information out," said organizer Lorena Garvey-Shepley.

She then quoted a sign she once saw at another Idle No More demonstration.

"Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’re trying to change the world," Garvey-Shepley said.

She warned that traffic would be slowed during the demonstrations. Speeches and a drum circle are planned to happen near the bridge.

"Our events have been peaceful and mostly informative," Garvey-Shepley said. "Idle No More believes in building allies."

Robert Crawford is a fourth-year student at the University of Windsor and president of the People’s Alliance student group there.

Friday, he helped organized an Idle No More drum circle and dance on campus.

"We feel like this is an issue students need to learn about. Students really have no idea what Idle No More is about," Crawford said.

The Idle No More movement says it wants to "stop the Harper government from passing more laws and legislation that will further erode treaty and indigenous rights and the rights of all Canadians."

The mission statement reads, "Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfils Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water."

The movement is protesting Bill C-45, better known as the Conservatives' second omnibus budget bill. It changes the legislation contained in 64 acts or regulation, the Indian Act, Navigation Protection Act (former Navigable Waters Protection Act) and Environmental Assessment Act.

Changes to all three concern Canada's First Nations.

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse said he supports the Idle No More movement and that Bill C-45 was passed with “little debate” in the House of Commons.

“We’d like to see improvements and respect on both sides and see advancements made,” Masse said. "We have to see changes to Bill C-45."

Masse said he supports the demonstration at the Ambassador Bridge as long as it's done in a "safe co-ordinated way."

According to the event's Facebook page, the group will begin to walk along Huron Church Road from Tecumseh Road to the Ambassador Bridge at 11:15 a.m.

They plan to rally at the bridge until 1 p.m. and then walk three kilometres back to Tecumseh Road.

More than 60 people on Facebook have committed to participating.

The Ambassador Bridge is North America’s busiest border and a commercial lifeline for many manufacturers in southwestern Ontario and the U.S. Midwest.

In 2010, a reported 28,814 trucks crossed the privately owned Ambassador Bridge on a daily basis, with a trade value of almost $500 million U.S.

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