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Idle No More drum beat echoes through crowded shopping mall

By: Jenny Jelen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Dec 27, 2012 - 4:31 PM |

Protesters rally behind Attawapiskat chief

Idle No More supporters took advantage of the busy New Sudbury Shopping Centre on Dec. 27 to spread the message about their fight.

Since Dec. 21, First Nations communities from across Northern Ontario have made their presence known in Greater Sudbury, protesting federal government legislation they say threatens to remove environmental protection from thousands of lakes in Canada and tramples on centuries-old treaty rights.

Supporters have also been garnering attention for Chief Theresa Spence. The leader of the Attawapiskat First Nations on the James Bay coast who is on a hunger strike until she gains a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Furthermore, First Nations members around Sault Ste. Marie staged a peaceful rally where they stopped traffic where the four-lane portion of Highway 17 begins.

Vehicles were held up for 15 minutes every hour, on the hour. The blockade started at 8 a.m. and was expected to last about 12 hours. The rally also shut down rail movement at the east side of the city.

In Sudbury, protesters gathered in the mall near centre court with drums and songs where they sang out to show their support for Spence. This came five days after First Nations members set up a complete road block at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 6 at Espanola, and six days after hundreds of ralliers gathered in downtown Sudbury for a march through the streets.

And while the protesters added to the hustle and bustle of an already busy day at the mall — Boxing Day, Sudbury edition — most Sudburians were more concerned with finding the best deals of the day, than politics.

Some called the mall and its crowds “hectic,” but that didn't stop them from forging their way from store to store.

And though Dec. 25 had barely come and gone, at least one shopper said she came out to begin holiday shopping for Christmas 2013, taking advantage of the reduced prices offered in the stores.

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