In what may be Denver's last protest of 2012, a flash mob is gathering this morning at the Canadian Consulate by the 16th Street Mall in support of Theresa Spence, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who has been on a hunger strike for more than twenty days. For a taste of the noise expected today, see video below from the group's protests Saturday at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
The event is being organized by Idle No More, an indigenous rights group, the American Indian Movement of Colorado and others.
"This is now spreading globally," says Glenn Morris, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver and a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. "It's kind of the indigenous version of the Arab Spring."
Morris, who has a long history of activism in the state, says that relations between the Canadian government and the First Nations are deteriorating -- and that there are First Nations people from Canada who live in Denver and want to see this change.
In a letter they are sending today to Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, by way of the Consulate in Denver, these groups are asking that Harper meet with Spence and other First Nation leaders. They are calling on Canadian leaders to repeal legislation that they argue is anti-First Nations and honor previous treaties as well as provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"A new generation is coming up who has taken on the responsibility of putting these issues on the forefront," Morris says. "We are telling the Canadian government that we are going to apply pressure."
He continues, "Flash mobs are great and that's really what's been happening...all over the place.... Native people from both Canada and the United States have begun to really collaborate."
Here's footage Morris sent to us of a Saturday protest at the Cherry Creek mall, at which hundreds showed up, he says.
And here's the letter he and other supporters are delivering today. Stephen Harper
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