Government says camp is in violation of bylaws
Activists at a makeshift camp at Regina’s Wascana Park remain unwavering after 80 days.
The Justice for our Stolen Children Camp was set up in the wake of the not guilty verdicts in the cases of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine this winter.
Raymond Cormier was acquitted of the murder of 15-year-old Fontaine, a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, in February. The verdict came less than two weeks after Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted of murder for the shooting death of Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man.
Organizers at the camp said they intended to draw attention to Indigenous youth who have been lost to protective services, the justice system and violence.
Prescott Demas said he’s been at the camp, across from the Saskatchewan Legislature, since it was set up on Feb. 28.
Demas said that in present-day Canada, Indigenous people live in a “hostile world” full of discrimination. He said it causes children to be ripped away from their families and harsher sentences in the justice system.
“People have to educate themselves to understand that these issues that we talk about here are real and we’re not just ‘crying’ like they think we’re always doing,” he said. “These issues have always been here … and Canada’s done so well at hiding it.”
Demas said some politicians have come to the camp on their own time, but none have invited them to government offices for a formal meeting or visited on official business.
He said representatives from Wascana stopped by on the first day to hand them an eviction notice and have not been there since.
“It feels like everything else in how we’re ignored,” Demas said.
“I know when we came here we expected them to come out and at least address us or to see why we’re here or anything like that,” he said, gesturing to the Legislature. “I think after day 80 we’re still kind of waiting.”
The government of Saskatchewan said those at the camp are in violation of numerous restrictions and bylaws by camping overnight and having a fire. A permit is also required for activities and protests on the property.
“The Government of Saskatchewan has not received any specific request from this group to meet with an elected official,” a spokesperson for the provincial government said. “We understand that a meeting is in the works but do not believe that a firm date has been set yet.”
To date three events have been moved from that section of the park including the Light Up the Lake Fun Run, March for Life and Walk for Alzheimer’s.
Demas said people at the camp have gotten a positive response from the public. He said they’ve had almost 1,000 visitors from all the provinces in Canada and as far as Norway.
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