Tipi camp continues to grow on Legislative grounds
- EFN Staff | July 11, 2018
After more than 130 days, tipis and supporters of the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp have increased significantly. Growing from one to 14 tipis, supporters of the camp located on Regina’s Legislative Building grounds said they are expecting more tipis to be put up.
“There are a few more expected,” said camp supporter Robyn Pitawanakwat. “The support seems to continue to grow as more people find out about us.”
Two days after the Regina Police Service (RPS) and the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) dismantled the main tipi at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp on June 18th, protesters resurrected the camp.
“This is an amazing time of unity. A lot of organizations and individuals coming together that previously didn’t work so well together but I think the common goal of finding justice for our children and reunifying families whenever possible,” said Pitawanakwat. “These are issues that all these organizations [and communities] are dealing with so it reinforces our need to be here.”
After multiple attempts for a government meeting, the camp supporters finally met with five provincial ministers that took place on July 2 in Fort Qu’Appelle. Camp supporters discussed and addressed concerns of systemic racism in justice, social services and other underlying issues Indigenous people face.
“We’ve been waiting to hear back if they are wanting to meet again…to see if they’re going to make any progress on the issues that we raised with them,” said Pitawanakwat. “The majority of [the issues raised] are with the Department of Social Services with child apprehension issues. That is something that needs to change immediately.”
Other concerns raised at the meeting was a request for the police and the coroner’s act updated.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was not in attendance at the meeting. In fact, Premier Moe addressed the media and made a callout to RPS in the last week of June 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.”
RPS members maintained the peace on the afternoon of July 9th after receiving a call from a member of the camp who reported that an unknown adult male was at the camp location and behaving in an intimidating way toward members of the camp. Elizabeth Popowich from RPS Communications confirmed in an email statement that police attended and found a 56-year-old male was in possession of a knife. The matter is still under investigation and no one was reported injured.
“With respect to the protest itself: the Regina Police Service continues to communicate regularly with the stakeholders,” according to the RPS statement. “Keeping the peace is active work even if it is not always visible to the public.”
The White Raven Healing Centre, in conjunction with the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp and the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC), has begun to offer professional mental health services on-site at the justice camp. Camp organizers said there is no time frame as to when the tipis will be coming down.
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 from the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.