Non-native groups, businesspeople, students, politicians — even clergy — joined First Nations protesters in droves yesterday, saying the issues affecting aboriginal people are all Canadians’ to help bear.
“I’m sort of disgusted by the treatment of indigenous people in Canada,” said Carleton University student Erin Cummings, who attended on Parliament Hill during the Day of Action rally. “It’s important to show solidarity with the First Nations people. I support the abolishment of poverty in First Nations communities.
“This problem shouldn’t exist in a nation as wealthy as Canada,” she said.
Cummings, who is studying history and aboriginal studies, has heard firsthand the stories of addiction and suicide within native communities, yet she notes how vibrant the culture remains in the face of modern challenges.
A primate with the Anglican Church of Canada, Fred Hiltz said he attended to raise his voice alongside others. Event organizer Dan Wilson said the event attracted dozens of local groups to join demonstrators.
Accounting for the depth of non-native support, Vera Pawis Tabobondung, president of the National Association of Friendship Centres, said the issues facing First Nations are universal and people of all races can relate.
“They might be different because of the geography, but poverty is poverty. Underfunding is underfunding. Racism is still racism. Your homeless is the same as our homeless. It doesn’t matter where you are.”
Toting a homemade sign reading “Justice for Natives, Eh?” political science student Aline Fontaine said “it’s important for the federal government to work with the Assembly of the First Nations for a fair and juster Canada.”
Representatives from unions and the major political parties, including former prime minister Paul Martin, attended the Victoria Island event.