TRURO – With traffic backing up for at least a couple of kilometres in each direction, the initial reaction from motorists being slowed down by an information protest appeared to be that of co-operation.
Drivers honked horns and readily accepted pamphlets being handed out by demonstrators as the protest at Exit 13A on Highway 102 through Millbrook got underway Friday morning
The protest was organized by members of the First Nations band in Millbrook and is aimed at generating attention to the federal government Bill C-45, which proposes to change more than 90 pieces of legislation dealing with issues relating to the environment, the fishery, Employment Insurance, health care and more.
“Let’s show each other a sign of respect,” Millbrook chief Robert Gloade, urged demonstrators during a rally prior to the start of the highway demonstration.
“There will be a lot of people coming here today and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about unity and standing together as brothers and sisters.”
The protest, which is to run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., is planned as a peaceful, information demonstration and participants were strongly encouraged to maintain that sentiment throughout the day, despite what reactions they might encounter from motorists who become frustrated with the traffic delay as both north and southbound traffic is reduced to one lane.
“At the end of the day, this is a win, win situation. No matter what happens I want you all to be very respectful,” Millbrook band member and protest organizer Michael Stephens told the crowd at the beginning of the rally in what he described as a fight for “justice.”
“People will be upset, it will be a long day,” he said. “They’re going to come up here. They might throw your paper back in your faces. Don’t let that get you worked up. Stay cool, very respectful. … . Be cool out there. No need of coming out with a warrior attitude or acting hard or anything like that.”
Speaking to the Truro Daily News after the protest began, Gloade said he was happy with the way the event started out.
“Things are going very well so far and the objective here is just to get people to start paying more attention to what the government is doing from the top down, as opposed to how they’re controlling the lives of so many people, whether it be from the land, the environment, their jobs and the economy,” he said. “So they should take a little more direct approach to just dealing with people as opposed to telling them what’s in their best interests,” he said of the Conservative government. “And that’s the message here.”
Gloade said the intent of the day’s protest is educate all Canadians to the concerns relating to Bill C-45 in an effort to prevent future generations from having to repeat such demonstrations.
“Be a little more concerned about what happens,” he said. “This movement is not just here, it’s across the country. And this ‘idle no more campaign’ has initiated a lot of interest from coast to coast with First Nations and non-aboriginal people, because it does not only affect us it affects the future generations of kids to come. And that’s what we’re here to protect, the generations that are not here yet. And that is the main objective here.”