Meeting date with gov’t officials set as solidarity tipi camp grows
- EFN Staff | June 29, 2018
Two days after the Regina Police Service (RPS) and the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) dismantled the tipi at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp, protesters resurrected the camp. Going on 122 days, the camp has grown to eight tipis on the Legislative Building grounds.
“It feels amazing. These are issues that all these organizations [and communities] are dealing with so it reinforces our need to be here,” said camp supporter, Robyn Pitawanakwat in a press conference on June 26.
After multiple attempts for a government meeting, the camp supporters will finally be meeting with Justice Minister Don Morgan, Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman and Warren Kaeding, the Minister Responsible for First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs and possibly the Minister of Central Services Ken Cheveldayoff. The meeting is set to take place on July 2.
“The provincial government has agreed to meet with us. Chief Edmund Bellegarde has assisted in the meeting time and place,” said Pitawanakwat. “We will be meeting out in Fort Qu’Appelle at the Treaty 4 signing grounds.”
It is not known if Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will be in attendance at the meeting. In fact, Premier Moe addressed the media and made a callout to RPS this week to take down the tipis at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp. RPS responded they are not choosing sides in this protest but will continue to keep public safety as their ultimate goal.
“Right now, our focus is community safety. We don’t feel a police response at this point…especially knowing that there is a meeting and a discussion planned,” said RPS Chief Evan Bray in an email statement. “We make sure that there’s no risk to the public, which at this point we don't feel there is; and so, our response right now is to let that discussion happen and ultimately hope for a peaceful resolution.”
Chief Bray added knowing that dialogue will happen and knowing there is no risk to the community, he acknowledges the camp is a very peaceful protest.
“It’s our goal to maintain the peace, make sure that our community stays safe, allow those conversations to happen and then we’re very hopeful and optimistic for a resolution,” said Bray.
The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp transpired following the verdicts of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier – both of whom were acquitted on charges stemming fromthe deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The camp sits in front of the Legislative Building and officials expressed disappointment that the supporters won’t be making way for their Canada Day festivities on July 1st.
“It is disappointing that last minute changes are necessary to an event that requires year-round planning because of an unpermitted and illegal protest,” PCC Executive Director Carrie Ross said in a statement. “We have bylaws and permits in place to ensure Wascana Park is available for everyone to use in a safe manner, and we are again asking the Regina Police Service to enforce the law.”
The Canada Day Committee will be moving all activities from the West Lawn to the north side of Wascana Lake on Canada Day, and Western Canada’s Strongman Competition, the 21 Gun Salute and the Plywood Cup will remain on the south side of the lake, according to the statement.
Supporters hope to discuss and address concerns of systemic racism in justice, social services and other underlying issues Indigenous people face.