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Earlier this afternoon, the latest local demonstration in support of the Idle No More movement, shut down the southbound half of the 403 for over an hour. Beginning at Dundurn Plaza, a few hundred protesters gathered then (with the help of police) took over King St and marched onto the on-ramp and then down onto the highway itself, marching until the next exit, then back along Main West to the plaza. The atmosphere was festive and cheerful – there were prayers and sweetgrass, drumming and round-dancing, and of course a prevailing sense of relief at the lack of mass-arrests.

The demo, planned mostly over the last week and largely on Facebook (with one meeting which cops attended), called for one of the boldest plans in recent memory. None of us knew what to expect when we showed up, and there’s little doubt that turnout was limited by these fears. Despite this, hundreds appeared, including elders and families with children, and relations with the few authorities present flowed pretty smoothly, all things considered.

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This was the third big demonstration Hamilton’s seen (after the Limeridge Mall flashmob and march downtown), and I’m told the other two were even larger. It was the first I’d seen in person, and the energy really impressed me. There was a large and diverse collection faces, with a great may who obviously weren’t regular attendees at demonstrations, as well as many old friends. Even the weather was surprisingly pleasant, and nearly everyone seemed to leave inspired.

Across Canada, similar actions shut down roads, railway tracks and border crossings in Sarnia, Tyendinega and many other locations, continuing the inertia built up over the past few weeks. Harper has finally promised to meet with Chief Spence next Friday, but she’s vowed to continue her hunger strike until (at least) then.
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