RIP Elijah Harper 1949-2013: Iconic First Nations leader who said ‘no’ and changed the course of Canadian history (x).
In 1990, he held up an eagle feather in the Manitoba legislature and voted no to allowing the Meech Lake accord to come to vote. His opposition was viewed as a key moment in the accord’s eventual fall. Harper felt First Nations people were not being recognized in the constitutional process in a meaningful way:
“The problem is we, as Aboriginal people, have not been dealt fairly, and also the governments have not dealt with the aboriginal issues the way we would like them to have. I think we have always been dealt with as second-class citizens and aboriginal nations are not a priority for first ministers and governments across this country.”
His family released this statement.
“He will have a place in Canadian history, forever, for his devotion to public service and uniting his fellow First Nations with pride, determination and resolve. Elijah will also be remembered for bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to find a spiritual basis for healing and understanding. We will miss him terribly and Love him forever.”
He was a hero among First Nations people who helped power the movement for Indigenous rights and equality. His legacy continues to inspire Native people across Canada today. He was a true example of being “Idle No More” over 20 years before the movement’s birth.
Wah-chay and meegwetch, Elijah Harper.