Social media have been playing a growingly important role in grassroots protest over the last five years. While many scholars have explored dynamics of political cyberprotest (e.g., the ongoing transnational Occupy movement, the 2012 Quebec student strike, the student-led protest movement in Chile between 2011 and 2013), few have studied sub-dynamics relating to ethno-cultural minorities’ uses of social media to gain visibility, mobilize support, and engage in political and civil action. We fill part of this gap in the academic literature by investigating uses of Twitter for political engagement in the context of the Canada-based Idle No More movement (INM). This ongoing protest initiative, which emerged in December 2012, seeks to mobilize Indigenous Peoples in Canada and internationally as well as their non-Indigenous allies. It does so by bringing attention to their culture, struggles, and identities as well as advocating for changes in policy areas relating to the environment, governance, and socio-economic matters. Our study explores to what extent references to aspects of Indigenous identities and culture shaped INM-related tweeting and, by extension, activism during the summer of 2013. We conducted a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of 1650 #IdleNoMore tweets shared by supporters of this movement between 3 July 2013 and 2 August 2013. Our study demonstrates that unlike other social media-intensive movements where economic and political concerns were the primary drivers of political and civil engagement, aspects of Indigenous culture influenced information flows and mobilization among #IdleNoMore tweeters.

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Keywords cultural activism, grassroots mobilization, identity politics, Idle No More, Indigenous peoples, Social media
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Journal Information, Communication and Society
Raynauld, V. (Vincent), Richez, E. (Emmanuelle), & Boudreau Morris, K. (Katie). (2017). Canada is #IdleNoMore: exploring dynamics of Indigenous political and civic protest in the Twitterverse. Information, Communication and Society, 1–17. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2017.1301522