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Idle No More And Black Lives Matter Protestors Occupied A Canadian Government Office

They say they will stay until the government does more to support First Nations youth.

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Idle No More protestors occupied an Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office in Toronto to demand that "substantive measures are taken to support and assist First Nations Youth." They are acting in response to the crisis in Attawapiskat‬.

Idle No More Toronto / Via Facebook: idlenomoretoronto

Carrie Lester, a Mohawk woman who is part of the group inside the office, told BuzzFeed Canada they arrived around 10 a.m. and asked to speak to someone about what the government is doing for the youth in Attawapiskat.

"The executive director refused to speak to us as a collective," Lester said. "They wanted one of us to come speak privately."

The group refused to have a private meeting and were old that as a result no one from INAC could speak with them, according to Lester.

"So we started chanting, 'You went away — we stay,'" Lester said.

The Northern Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat recently declared a state of emergency after 11 people attempted suicide in a single night.

Protestors hung an Attawapiskat flag in the reception area, and some lay on the floor in front of the main desk.

Lester said they will stay until the government commits to doing more for the youth of Attawapiskat, and for other Indigenous youth.

"[The government] sent up a team of social workers," Lester said of the initial response to the crisis. "But they’ve known for decades what’s been going on. It's deplorable that they now consider it a crisis when it’s been there for decades."

She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be personally involved in the response to the crisis.

"He needs to speak to the youth of Attawapiskat and First Nations youth across the land," Lester said. "Right now they are wanting to meet with him."

The Idle No More protestors were joined by a group from the Toronto branch of Black Lives Matter.

Idle No More Toronto / Via Facebook: idlenomoretoronto

"We have come together to make this collective response to what has been going on in Attawapiskat," Lester said.

Black Lives Matter Toronto has also been posting videos from the occupation to its Facebook page.

Facebook: video.php

And the occupation is being live-streamed on Ustream. At one point, a man holding a flag was asked what he wants the government to do. "Ask the kids what they want," he said, citing a list Attawapiskat youth made of things they think will help them.

Ustream

A Black Lives Matter member was also heard explaining that their solidarity with Indigenous people in Canada stems from the fact that both communities suffered under colonialism.

BuzzFeed Canada called the Toronto INAC office for comment but no one answered the phone.

Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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