01/10/2013 05:06 EST | Updated 03/12/2013 05:12 EDT

What is the Strategy Behind Idle No More?


There are two possibilities -- Idle No More means not a whole lot, or is the beginning of a national awakening of a slumbering giant.

It is possible that the Idle No More protests are nothing more that the spontaneous outbursts of a few frustrated at the failure of aboriginals to find a place of respect and dignity in Canadian society. If this is all the Idle No More movement is then apart from some minor delay for rail traffic and a few tie ups at bridge crossings, the impact on Canadian society will be passing and trifling.

But if planned and with a strategy the effect could be very different. If the Idle No More movement has a goal of delegitimization of Canadian society and its assumption that aboriginals form a marginalized part of society then a very different end may result.

If the million or so aboriginal Canadians together realized their joint power, they could change Canada into a totally different society.

And there are indications that a strategy is there.

Some sense of strategy may, for example, be seen in the refusal of some of the Idle No More leadership to meet the Prime Minister without the Governor General. This refusal is not merely churlish -- it reflects an underlying position that Canada deals with aboriginal people as sovereign nations. It says Stephen Harper is not the Prime Minister of aboriginals -- so the proper person to deal with is the Governor General.

This is not just posing or nonsense. It is an attempt to change the view frame and delegitimize the existing social structure.

And should you think such a process cannot ever work, read From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp. These sort of tactics can work. They have worked -- they destroyed the Soviet Bloc.

Now, as a Canadian, what should be done? I want Canada to survive and prosper. I want Canada to respect, cherish and include its aboriginal peoples. That means the existing structures cannot stand. But it does not mean that Canada need be foreign to its aboriginal peoples. Just as Quebec forms a distinct society within Canada so too the Metis, First Nations and Inuit can be recognized.

This goal is not beyond reach -- it has already been attained albeit in the far North.

Nunavut is an example of how an empowered aboriginal people can develop a prosperous modern and distinct society -- yes there are teething pains but Nunavut preserves Inuit values, welcomes newcomers and anxiously develops resources.

Idle No More need not be a confrontational force -- it can be the catalyst to bring about real justice and fairness for all the nations of Canada.

Idle No More: In Photos