Social movements deserve our appreciation

Last Wednesday, Jan. 16, a national day of action organized by Canada’s Idle No More movement stirred nation- wide protests in the name of Aboriginal rights.
The movement originated late last year in response to Bill C-45, an omni-bus budget bill which not only poses a threat to Indigenous ways of living but which has put their land in danger, a land that belongs to Canadians alike.

This day also saw action from protestors of Bill 115 who staged after-school protests around Ontario. The bill was passed earlier last year and has since caused controversy in Canada’s educational sector.

Educators have been most notably responding to the bill’s threat towards their rights by cutting extra-curricular activities in schools nation-wide.

Although there are many factors that separate these social movements, they are united in that they demonstrate a population recognizing and utilizing their democratic rights and abilities. It is important, especially in an age of growing globalization, that we as Canadians participate in our own government and choose to start a conversation.

Regardless of whose voice is louder or whose words are most justified on either end, there should be an exchange. With- out an exchange, there can be no hope for change.

I am inspired by the Idle No More protestors and their supporters drumming and dancing in the streets, by the students sporting athletic gear outside of schools in a showcase directed not at their teachers, but at their teacher’s provokers.

Young and old, they are united as citizens of a country where they have a say. And the only way to sustain that is if something is actually being said.

And I believe that they have a right to be heard, not just amongst each other but by those their words are meant for.

After all, they are not lunging aggressively but standing tall, they do not throw punches but statements and stares.

It frustrates me to no end when those who lead a land of social and political equality do not take this seriously. What, then, is the point of freedom of speech if no one is listening?

This is not to say that no one is, but not always to the extent that those speaking deserve.

A student may be young, but no one is more influenced by or familiar with our educational system. An Indigenous person may be a minority but there are few Canadians who are as conscious of and have the same respect for our land.

When either of these factors are threatened, I feel that they are the most qualified in earning an audience with our government — a serious audience.

Over the years, voter turnout has been on a steady decline. I can regretfully say that I myself contribute to this trend, slouched back on a couch, expecting the greater population to take Canada’s reins and steer us in the right direction.

I admire those who recognize that they are the population and disregard their feelings of smallness, of pestering insignificance that has only grown with the onset of global connectivity.

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