Native Canadian Groups In Protest 'Day Of Action'

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editors
Thousands of First Nations Canadians have launched protests over treaty disputes and budget bills they say weaken environmental oversight.

 

 
Thousands of First Nations Canadians have launched protests over treaty disputes and budget bills they say weaken environmental oversight.
 
In a "day of action" organised by grassroots group Idle No More, hundreds of people slowed traffic on a bridge linking Ontario with the US.
 
Demonstrations were being held in at least six provinces on Wednesday.
 
But Canadian PM Stephen Harper's office said the government had no plans to change the legislation in question.
 
"We don't want to inconvenience people too much," protest organiser Lorena Garvey-Shepley told CBC News at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and the US state of Michigan.
 
"But we want to be in places that are going to get us noticed and allow us to get our information out."
 
'Towards direct action'
Elsewhere in Canada, authorities and residents braced for major disruptions in traffic.
 
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was concerned the protests would hurt the national economy.
 
In Manitoba, protesters shut down a rail line, while the St Mary's First Nation in New Brunswick demonstrated outside the residence of the province's lieutenant governor.
 
Demonstrators marched on the British consulate in Toronto, and in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, a crowd performed a dance near Parliament Hill.
 
"They are taking away our treaty rights, our schooling, all of the things that they signed for," protester Rosalie Chum, told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
 
"We share our land with everyone and they are taking away our rights."
 
The protests follow weeks of tension among First Nations chiefs and leaders of the Canadian government.
 
A meeting last week between First Nations chiefs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended with pledges by the government to continue "high level" talks on native concerns.
 
But some First Nations leaders boycotted that meeting because it did not include the Queen's representative in Canada, the governor general - they argue the nations signed treaties with the Crown, not the Canadian government.
 
Also, some chiefs were disappointed that the meeting was not open to more native leaders.