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Government and Indigenous Protest: An Analysis of the Response to Idle No More - Ignored No More



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This dissertation examined how the Idle No More movement, particularly during the peak of Indigenous activity in 2012-13, affected government policy and practice in Canada. It studied the role of social movements in shaping public policy, specifically how the federal and two provincial governments responded to the movement. The research categorized the way public policy scholars present their work using a policy, rights, or relationships lens and how each of these lenses is used collectively in Indigenous mobilization efforts. These three lenses bring forward discussions that are significant when examining mass movements. The relevance of natural laws in Indigenous mobilization are identified as integral to the process. The research is presented through an examination of the Idle No More movement (the movement), arguably the largest, most sustained, and most effective demonstration of Indigenous determination in Canadian history, as way to demonstrate the governments’ responses to Indigenous democratic protest. The responses of the federal government as well as the two provinces of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are the focus of this study. Media reports, interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Respondents, and government documents are used to determine whether there has been a change in attitude, planning processes, or substance in the governments’ responses to the movement. The research included a study of the impact of the movement on government officials, administrative processes, programming, and policy and determined how the movement influenced government policy and administration. The Idle No More movement had an explicit impact on agenda setting. It gave off-reserve Indigenous people a chance to voice their concerns about government, Indigenous leadership, programs, and services. The long-standing practice of dealing directly with Indigenous leaders had stopped government from meeting with community members in open forums. For many, Idle No More liberated Indigenous people to speak out and be heard. This was particularly true for off-reserve Indigenous peoples who felt largely ignored by Indigenous and public government representatives. Giving voice to Indigenous peoples and seeking to offset the authority of both Indian Act (R.S.C., 1985, c.1-5) governments and the public governments of Canada, was the founding aspiration of Idle No More.



Indigenous Protest, Government Response, Idle No More



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy


Public Policy


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