As someone who is interested in the role of digital in public affairs, I’ve been following Idle No More since it’s very early days. I believe the movement is unique and offers us many insights and lessons into the evolution of modern grassroots organization and the life cycle of public interest.

As public interest has waned and momentum within the movemement appears to have slowed down, I’ve been looking with even greater interest for the next catalyst for the movement to recapture some of the energy and public interest it had in January. Some recent events looked poised to be catalysts. I thought the Journey of Nishiyuu walkers was in the best position to reignite the Idle No More movement. The rally on Parliament Hill celebrating the arrival of the youth walkers combined with Stephen Harper’s absence to be in Toronto for the arrival of the panda bears from China was an event rather than a turning point.

There were two potential turning points this week. I watched very closely when news broke about a report by former military official Douglas Bland for the Macdonald Laurier Institute report. The report identifies First Nations living conditions as being comparable to those experienced by indiviudals living in ‘third world’ countries. Mr. Bland suggests those factors and high levels of unemployment among First Nations make conditions are ripe for an insurgency. That report drew only 107 tweets among captured Idle No More online chatter.

Second up this past week was the death of Aboriginal Cree Canadian politician and band chief Elijah Harper. Best known for orchestrating the collapse of the Meech Lake accord because it overlooked indigenous rights, some tweeters noted Mr. Harper epitomized Idle No More long before the movement came into being. Surprisingly, Mr. Harper inspired only 310 tweets within the Idle No More online chatter on May 17, and an additional 107 on May 18. I was surprised by the low level of activity

From a statistical point of view, it could be fair to suggest the bump in traffic on Friday and the residual gentle bump on Saturday could be removed as anomalies from the actual ongoing Idle No More activity. If we take that to be true, we can remove 417 tweets from last week which brings the total to 6,797 meaning there was only a 2% increase in activity over the previous week. The resulting graph is more consistent. I have not done that here. Today’s analysis is based on actual captured information.

What follows is the analysis of Idle No More online activity for May 12 through 18, inclusive. Analysis was performed using Marketwired/Sysomos Heartbeat.

Tweets Sources Average
May 12 641 308 2.1
May 13 980 447 2.2
May 14 1,050 556 1.9
May 15 1,100 517 2.1
May 16 1,097 572 1.9
May 17 1,374 736 1.9
May 18 972 475 2.0

Posting a rise in activity:

  • Forum mentions, including Reddit, up 139% (from 23 to 55)
  • Facebook mentions up 34% (from 168 to 226)
  • Blog mentions up 32% (from 71 to 94)
  • Twitter mentions up 9% (from 6,628 to 7,214)

Posing a fall in activity:

  • YouTube mentions down 33% (from 33 to 22)
  • News mentions down 23% (from 74 to 60)

The 7,214 tweets issued this past week came from 2,524 unique Twitter accounts; an average of 2.9 tweets per account. The number of participants increased 18% from last week’s analysis.

In all, online mentions were up 10% from the previous week.


The three Twitter accounts which issued the most tweets tagged #IdleNoMore, #NativeWinter or including the text “Idle No More” were @teamrevoltnow (1,086, down from 1,173 last week), @idlenomoreyeg (174, up from 170) and @joanie399 (157, up from 136). They combine for 1,417 tweets or 20% of relevant tweets for the week (up 2% over the previous week). To contextualize their contributions, @teamrevoltnow issued the equivalent of 135 tweets on average for each day last week, @idlenomoreyeg 25 and @joanie399 22.

For the second week in a row, Canada gave up 2% share in the chatter, dropping back to 58%, the United States held on to 31% (same as last week) and the UK contributed a bit more, edging up to 3%.

Gender participation came more into balance this pas week, with women contributing 3% more of the #IdleNoMore Twitter activity.


Among the more common themes this past week include oil and gas (pipeline, keystone, transcanada, barackobama), indigenous rights (sovereignty, apartheid), treaties, the campaign to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier and the death of Aboriginal Cree Canadian politician and band chief Elijah Harper.

The following buzzgraph illustrates the connection between key terms in the most active conversations. The stronger the connection between the words, the thicker and bolder the connection line. There are three levels of connection illustrated by a thick solid line (strong), a thin solid line (medium) and a thin broken line (light). The Buzzgraph that follows shows only two degrees of connection during the election campaign — strong and light.


The top tweet for this report was issued by Janice Makokis who goes by the Twitter handle @bearclannation. Her May 15 tweet which links to the Guardian article US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations has been 51 times and 8 people indicated it as a favourite.


Featured image: Youth for Lakes Walkers. Parliament Hill. 13/05/13 by Peter Stockdale.