Chief Jonathan Kruger of the Penticton Indian band says he's impressed with the impact of the Idle No More movement and the momentum it has gained on a global scale.
"The Idle No More movement is still carrying on," said Jonathan Kruger.
He pointed to concerns about the environment and preservation of waterways as two issues that have brought together aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, and which have sparked Idle No More protest across Canada and in other parts of the world.
"I'm very impressed to see a positive movement," said Kruger, adding that protests have been respectful and peaceful.
Kruger pointed to a hunger protest by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, now in her fifth week on a liquid-only diet, as a different approach to activism by First Nations. Spence continues to push for a meeting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and native leaders to address First Nations concerns. She did not attend the Jan. 11 meeting between Harper and First Nations leaders that resulted in the agreement on old treaties and land-claims talks.
Rather than straining relations with the government by taking a more aggressive approach, Spence and the Idle No More movement have adopted a peaceful method that is bringing attention to environmental as well as treaty issues.
Kruger said Idle No More has raised questions about the adoption of Bill C-45 and the lack of consultation with First Nations prior to it passing. Spence's hunger protest has been more focused on the failure of governments to honour centuries-old treaties in relation to land-claims issues.
What is needed, believes Kruger, is efforts by both sides to begin to develop a working relationship in order to address key issues and concerns.
Following the Jan. 11 meeting, the federal government promised to hold more in-depth discussions with First Nations.
"Chiefs have been pushing for this for decades," said Kruger.
He said he'd like to see Spence end her hunger protest.
"It's time to get help for her band and for her to join with other leaders and create momentum to continue," he said.
Next Thursday and Friday, Kruger will attend a session in Vancouver at which First Nations chiefs will gather to collect feedback on the meeting with Harper.
Kruger said he feels Idle No More followers will continue to advocate for protection of the environment.
Kruger said that at the local level, the Penticton Indian band and City of Penticton have a solid relationship.
"We all benefit from that," he said. "The rising tide carries all boats. When there's a big wave, we all ride it together."
When both sides co-operate and work towards job creation, that enhances economic development and generates more revenue, which is better for the band and the city, said Kruger.
"It's a reality of a direction that we need to go," he said.
During the past 10 years, the band and the city have created a servicing agreement and established a protocol, catching the eye of other communities looking to improve their relationships with First Nations, he said.