Still Not Idle gathering in Bear River

Community invited to discuss Idle No More

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on January 23, 2013
Shalan Joudry, Fred Harlow and Christine Harlow drum and sing while the smudge or purifying smoke goes round before the sharing circle to discuss Idle No More on the Bear River First Nation.
Jonathan Riley

Bear River First Nation is following up their first sharing circle to discuss Idle No More with a two-day gathering this weekend.

The invitation on Facebook says it’s “a chance for our community, along with friends and neighbours, to gather and talk about ecological and cultural issues, participate in workshops, share food, sing and dance together, and share our voices about how to plan for the next seven generations.”

“Bring your drums and rattles, regalia, medicines, food, and good cheer.”

Shalan Joudry, a community ecologist and storyteller from Bear River says after the first sharing circle of about 50 people on Wednesday, Jan. 9, people in the community were asking for more.

They have come up with a tentative agenda including a workshop on “Deep Democracy” by Janet Larkman and a presentation on environmental issues facing this end of the province, but Joudry says the participants will set the real agenda.

“In our culture we have a way of simply setting up a space and time, telling people to come if they want to, bring some friends and we will improvise based on a tentative agenda as the hours roll on,” she says. “This is a gathering, not a conference, not a band meeting, and not a public rally or demonstration either.”

Joudry says mid-winter is a traditional time for the Mi’kmaq people to gather together.

“It’s a time our ancestors would gather, share resources and tell stories, to make it through the darkest, coldest times,” she says. “But the point was to gather together. The strength was in the sharing.

“Sometimes we get so caught-up in our individual jobs and homes that we might not take that time to schedule a community feast.”

Joudry doesn’t expect the circle will result in any big answers to big questions.

“But we’ll make history,” she says. “Our voices are strengthening. This movement is about telling each other that we can empower our own selves, to remind each other on and off the reserve that we can make our own opportunity to stand for something we have been wanting to voice.

“For some people it’s simply standing up showing their culture and heritage for Canadians to see and know about. For some people it’s all about Bill C-38 and C-45 and their disgust with political systems that had obviously failed us if these omnibus bills can pass without our knowledge until it’s too late.”

For Joudry personally the movement is about better democracy, environmental protection and support for Mi’kmaw heritage, identity, language and culture.

Joudry says everyone is welcome.

“In our tradition, no one is excluded,” she says. “We aren’t turning people away from wanting to join in the great conversations, workshops, moments, sharing of music. They don’t even have to come with the same views on these things, but they should be coming with good intentions.

“Our Elders teach us to believe in good intention and trust that what needs to happen, will. Who needs to be there, will come. And whatever or whoever makes up this weekend will be for a reason.”

Bear River First Nations chief Frank Meuse says the movement is an awakening for our First Nation governments to review and make sure that they have good communications going both ways with community members.

“I support Idle No More because it is allowing the grassroots people an opportunity to express their frustration with government,” says Meuse. “This federal government is passing bills without consultation with First Nations, yet are addressing issues that relate directly to our rights and on the levels of protection of the waters as well as lands of our traditional territory.”

Meuse sees Idle No More as a way for First Peoples to stand up without guns or anger but “with our drums, songs and care.”

“Idle No More will be here for a long time now that we’ve found our strength,” says Meuse. “It may never go away. I ask you to join us in a round dance. You might be surprised at what you find at its end.”

The weekend beings with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 and is scheduled to end with a closing circle on Sunday about 1:30 p.m.

The weekend also includes potlucks and an open mic Saturday night called “Our Voices” for music, storytelling and spoken word with special guests including Ashley Moffat, Terry Wilkins and Kadijah.

More information is available from the Facebook event entitled “L’sitkuk: Still Not Idle (Gathering)” at .



Saturday, Jan. 26

9:30 a.m. greet and meet

10 a.m. opening ceremony (welcoming, drumming/singing/dancing, sharing circle)

12 noon potluck lunch

1 p.m. Listening to Our Elders (Open mic for Elders)

~2:00 Panel discussion about Bill C-38 and C-45 and their relationships to environment/community

~3:00 World Café / Sharing Circles

workshop (Deep Democracy - with Janet Larkman)

5 p.m. potluck supper feast

6 p.m. “Our Voices” (stage open for music, storytelling, spoken word - hosted by Shalan; with special guests Ashley Moffat, Terry Wilkins, Kadijah, and more)

~8:00 p.m. sharing/closing circle and giving thanks for the day

Sunday, Jan. 27

9:30 a.m. greet and meet

10 a.m. opening ceremony

11 a.m. All Nations Drum Circle (hosted by Kadijah)

12 noon potluck lunch / feast (with speaker: Professor Patti Doyle-Bedwell)

- more drumming and dancing

1:30 p.m. closing circle and give-away

3:30 p.m. clean-up