Ta’Kaiya Blaney on First Nations: “We’re Awake and We’re Standing Up”

Video: She’s only 11 years old, but she’s already been working for environmental justice for a few years now. Here, she addresses the crowd at an Idle No More event in British Columbia.

“If we keep waiting for change, it’s never going to come,” Ta’Kaiya tells the people gathered for and Idle No More event in Courtenay, British Columbia.

At 11 years old, Ta’Kaiya has become something of an icon for the Canadian movement for environmental justice on First Nations lands. In July 2011, attempted to deliver a letter outlining the community’s concerns to Enbridge, the company that is planning to build the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. She was escorted off the company’s property by security guards.

“I don’t know what they find so scary about me,” she said. “I just want them to hear what I have to say.”

The year before that, her song, “Shallow Waters,” co-written with her music teacher, was among the top five finalists for the David Suzuki 2010 Songwriting Contest. The song won acclaim in Canada for its smart lyrics about water pollution.

Now Ta’Kaiya stands among the hundreds protesting Canda’s C-45 bill, which many say jeopardizes the land rights of First Nations people.

  • Why a First Nations student from British Columbia is taking on a controversial trans-Canadian pipeline project—through song.
  • Speakers at an Idle No More event in Seattle drew comparisons between spiritual and political struggles, making the movement seem closer to Civil Rights than Occupy.
  • Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More movement.


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