Idle No More, Black Lives Matter protesters occupy Toronto Indigenous and Northern Affairs office
CBC News Posted: Apr 13, 2016
Protest to urge government action during Attawapiskat suicide crisis has been non-violent, say police
Protesters have been occupying the Toronto office of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) since mid-morning, demanding that the federal government take action following a recent spate of suicide attempts in Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.
Toronto police who arrived after 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday say protesters removed a Canadian flag from the office, but that the protest has been non-violent.
As many as 20 members of Idle No More and Black Lives Matter flooded the office at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue East.
They say they are standing in solidarity with the Attawapiskat community, which declared a state of emergency Saturday following reports of 11 suicide attempts in one day alone last weekend.
Protesters refuse to leave the premises until INAC officials speak with them directly.
“We would like to hear that they are doing more than just sending social workers after the fact. There are so many issues at stake,” protester Carrie Lester told CBC Toronto by phone.
“We’re prepared to stay as long as it takes,” Lester said. “Once we have got that determination … then, we are fine to go.”
Officials from Health Canada said on Tuesday afternoon that 18 health workers, mental-health workers and police were being dispatched to support the Attawapiskat community.
“Our government wants to assure First Nations that we are personally and directly engaged in the recent states of emergencies that have been declared,” reads a statement by Health Minister Jane Philpott.
Lester said it is not enough and protesters want to see the federal government taking more action.