Saskatchewan Premier wants Police to remove Justice for Our Stolen Children camp

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp has grown to nine teepees.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is backing calls for police to remove teepees that protesters have set up on the legislature grounds, forcing changes to Canada Day plans.

Moe says there are laws that cover the park surrounding the provincial legislature to ensure that it’s available to everyone.

“The fact (is) that the protests that we do see across the way are breaking laws here, and those laws should be enforced,” Moe said Thursday.

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp was set up to protest racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.

The camp started in late February and was dismantled early last week before being set up again June 21 with more teepees.

Bylaws prohibit overnight camping, placement of structures and burning wood and other combustibles in the park.

The Provincial Capital Commission said on Wednesday that it has had to make alterations to its Canada Day festivities, because the space where the camp is situated normally has a concert stage and beer gardens.

Regina police have said there’s no need to step in at this point, because a meeting is scheduled for Monday between the protesters and five government ministers in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle.

Camp protester Robyn Pitawanakwat said Thursday that she thinks there are laws being broken by pushing out peaceful protests.

“There are charter rights that are being put in violation when that happens,” she said. “Breaking the law is not just one sided in this regard. Bylaws are very minor and charter rights supersede those.”

Moe said it’s the government’s expectation that the teepees will be removed either before or after the meeting. As of Thursday morning, there were nine teepees at the camp.

“We continue to work with First Nations leaders across the province on the issues that have been raised just here,” Moe said. “If the teepees are removed previous to that (meeting), that would be positive as well.”

Pitawanakwat said there needs to be a focus on justice before the teepees are removed.

“We need families coming home,” she said. “We need to have children put back in biological family settings that are open and willing to take them.”

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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Protesters arrested, Tipi camp dismantled after more than 100 days in Wascana Park

Tipi camp dismantled after more than 100 days in Wascana Park

Several people arrested by Regina police on Monday at the “Justice for our Stolen Children” camp have been released without charges.

The move came as authorities dismantled the tipi in the park on Monday evening.

The camp’s sacred fire went out just after 7 p.m. Officials then took down the camp’s tipi, which was the last structure at the protest.

The rest of the camp was dismantled by police and government officials on Friday morning. Police said they would give campers 48 hours after the dismantling of the camp to extinguish their sacred fire and remove their tipi, but demonstrators decided on Sunday not to leave the scene.

“The agreement was made that the tipi would come down, and that was agreed upon by the campers, and today unfortunately that camp wasn’t taken down, so we’re here to assist with that.” Supt. Darcy Koch told the media.

The camp was erected 111 days ago in response to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the death of Colten Boushie, and the acquittal of Raymond Cormier in the death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine.

Members of the camp have said that they want to talk to government officials about their concerns. So far the two groups have not been able to come together for such a meeting.

Minister of Justice Don Morgan said the government expected the tipi to be removed on Sunday and that the park isn’t intended for overnight camping. Morgan said he wasn’t able to comment on the timing of the arrests, since it would be up to police to take those actions.

Morgan added that he didn’t want it to be a setback in the government’s relationship with First Nations in Saskatchewan. He said he will be reaching out to FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in the coming days, and has plans to travel to Red Pheasant First Nation.

According to Morgan, the government is still willing to meet with protestors about the issues raised at the camp.

“You don’t need to have a tent up in Wascana to have a meeting and reach out to government,” Morgan said.

Morgan said he wants to reach out to the campers in the coming days, but will wait until emotions aren’t as high.

CTV Regina

[SOURCE]

B.C. judge expands Trans Mountain injunction as protesters use ’calculated’ defiance

Burnaby RCMP arrested several protesters for violating a court injunction that prohibits them from entering within five metres of a Kinder Morgan work site.

Anti-pipeline protesters have made a calculated effort to blockade two Trans Mountain work sites in Burnaby, says a British Columbia Supreme Court judge who expanded his injunction to include equipment facilities and other locations involving the controversial project.

Justice Kenneth Affleck said Friday he would have some sympathy for people opposed to Trans Mountain’s application to vary his March 15 order prohibiting protests within a five-metre buffer zone, but an abundance of evidence indicates people have found ways to get around it and stop police from making arrests.

“In my view, the clear attempt to frustrate the injunction is not acceptable and there needs to be a means by this court to determine that its orders are respected,” Affleck said.

Those opposed have every right to protest, he said.

“They have a right to make their views known in a way that captures the attention of the world, if they wish to do so, but they are not entitled to block what is lawful activity.”

Dozens of protesters have been arrested since protests escalated last November. Many of those have appeared before Affleck this week to plead guilty to criminal contempt of court for violating the injunction and to pay fines or commit to community service. Others have yet to make court appearances.

Trans Mountain lawyer Maureen Killoran told Affleck that protesters have used a “workaround” to flout the injunction, which applied to the Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.

Killoran said affidavits from two witnesses indicate protesters have been bent on maximizing disruption at the two construction sites by “tag teaming” to avoid arrest after police read them the injunction order and gave them a 10-minute warning.

She read Facebook posts of a group called the Justin Trudeau Brigade, which urges protesters to leave a blockade just before the warning time is up as they are replaced by another group and police have to read the injunction order again and the process repeats.

Killoran said an RCMP officer’s affidavit outlines how protesters at the Burnaby work sites have taken advantage of the 10-minute warning period and slowed down the enforcement process, resulting in fewer arrests, more work for police, and no repercussions for protesters.

“This is the mischief we are here to address,” Killoran said, adding protest organizers are committed to stopping Trans Mountain trucks from entering construction sites and aim to blockade other locations where the company might store equipment or have contractors working on the project.

She said activists have also climbed on top of a tunnel boring machine at a storage facility in Delta, B.C., so the injunction must be extended beyond the Burnaby work sites.

Affleck granted Trans Mountain’s request to enforce the five-metre injunction in other areas as well as allowing the company to post warning signs 10 metres from work sites.

Neil Chantler, a lawyer for one of 15 defendants named in a notice of civil claim, called Trans Mountain’s request to expand the injunction too broad and said the company was being hypothetical in assuming people would protest beyond Burnaby but had evidence only on the incident at the Delta facility.

“Trans Mountain is trying to get a carte blanche order that it may wield in the future wherever it chooses, much to the detriment and uncertainty of the general public,” Chantler said.

However, Killoran said there is nothing hypothetical about Trans Mountain’s intention to protect its work sites while continuing a project that the federal government has approved.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Judge grants Trans Mountain injunction preventing blockades at terminals in Burnaby

(Source: Camp cloud at km surveillance post/Facebook)

A Supreme Court Justice has granted Trans Mountain an interim injunction aimed at preventing anti-pipeline activists from using blockades at two terminals in Burnaby, B.C.

The energy giant filed an injunction on Friday a day ahead of a public demonstration to protest its controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

The Globe and Mail reports the company listed 15 individuals, along with John Doe, Jane Doe and “persons unnamed” in a notice of civil claim as part of its request to restrict protesters from coming within 50 metres of the facilities.

Justice Kenneth Affleck agreed with that condition and said the injunction will last until Wednesday, when a hearing on the matter will continue.

According to Metro News, the injunction is not meant to affect protest on public lands, but will apply to blockades of lands owned by Trans Mountain.

Protesters have repeatedly blocked access to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby to prevent workers from getting in and out of the site.

Protesters of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project block access to workers at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

A Kinder Morgan spokesperson said “Trans Mountain supports the right to peaceful and lawful expressions of opinions and understand not everyone agrees with the project.”

Since Trudeau’s approval, there has been opposition in British Columbia, where the pipeline is fiercely opposed by First Nations and environmentalists worried about oil spills.

Indigenous activists will be marching on Saturday alongside environmental groups, local residents and other supporters in Burnaby, against plans to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The expansion would increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil a day.

The City of Burnaby and the City of Vancouver have opposed the project.

BIV reports, the 15 protestors named in the injunction, and their aliases, are: David Mivasair, Bina Salimath, Mia Nissen, Corey Skinner (aka Cory Skinner), Uni Urchin (aka Jean Escueta), Arthur Brociner (aka Artur Brociner), Kari Perrin, Yvon Raoul, Earle Peach, Sandra Ang, Reuben Garbanzo (aka Robert Abbess) Gordon Cornwall, Thomas Chan, Laurel Dykstra and Rudi Leibik (aka Ruth Leibik).

The injunction will not stop the protest from going ahead.

The rally and march begins Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at the Lake City Way SkyTrain station in Burnaby.

Emergency measures, Military support: Documents reveal heightened concern about Muskrat Falls security

The last of seven transformers for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project rolls through at the gate in late August 2017. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Military provided lodging, meals as police mobilized in the face of more Muskrat Falls-related protests

The Canadian military quietly assisted during a large deployment of police officers to Labrador in 2017 amid fears of more protests about the controversial Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request reveal that the Canadian Armed Forces provided lodging and food at 5 Wing Goose Bay, but stopped well short of giving operational support during a politically sensitive period when officials feared protests may get out of control.

Declaring an emergency

The documents also highlight the extreme level of concern about the movement of massive transformers overland from Cartwright to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, months after protests that disrupted the construction site in central Labrador.

This aerial photo shows one of the Muskrat Falls transformers being transported across Labrador in summer 2017. (Nalcor)

In one letter, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Justice and Public Safety Minister, Andrew Parsons, invokes emergency measures and directs the RCMP to deploy officers “to the extent necessary” to maintain law and order.

“I recognized that it may be necessary to invoke article 9.2 and to seek additional resources by drawing RCMP personnel from neighbouring provinces,” Parsons wrote in a June 19, 2017 letter to the RCMP.

The RCMP responded by deploying dozens of officers — ranging from a low of 80 to a high of 135 — and resources from throughout Atlantic Canada to Labrador between June and September, a mission called Project Beltway that cost the provincial government an estimated $10 million.

A smooth shipment, ahead of schedule

The expected protests, however, never materialized and the transformers were delivered ahead of schedule over the roughly 400 kilometres of road from Cartwright to Happy Valley-Goose Bay without any serious incident.

The seventh and final transformer rolled through the gates at Muskrat Falls on Aug. 25, with a small group of protesters looking on.

There were small protests as seven large transformers destinated for Muskrat Falls were shipped across Labrador from Cartwright last summer, but police say the operation was uneventful. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

So was all the security — and cost — necessary?

Absolutely, said assistant commissioner Peter Clark, commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It was a relatively uneventful event. Was that because there were police officers there with the detailed plan and strategy? Or would it have been uneventful anyhow? I believe based on what I know the presence of those police officers and the work they did made the difference in this case,” Clark told CBC News.

But why was it necessary to call in the military?

Clark said there’s limited accommodations in the region, and it made perfect sense to request help from another federal agency.

“We didn’t want to find ourselves putting an unreasonable pressure on existing infrastructure and we wanted to make sure that our people were given healthy and safe accommodation,” Clark explained.

“And the way to do that was to simply reach out to our Canadian Forces partners.”

The military agreed to help, but with strict limitations on its role.

In a letter to the justice minister, the then commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic said the military would not assist in any activities of an “operational nature.”

“This includes any manner of forcible control of the civilian population by CAF personnel, use of CAF facilities or equipment to detain any individual placed under arrest, and providing transportation to and from operational policing activities,” Rear Admiral John Newton wrote in a May 31, 2017 letter to Parsons.

David Nuke leads protesters out of the Muskrat Falls site in October 2016 following a four-day occupation of a section of the accommodations complex. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

In other words, a behind-the-scenes role, ensuring clashes between soldiers and Indigenous protesters, like the ones that made international headlines during the Oka crisis in Quebec in 1990 were not repeated.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Forces said it’s not uncommon for the military to lend assistance to provincial and federal agencies, and cited examples such as the Olympics, meetings of world leaders and even during international drug busts.

Protests turned ugly in 2016

The threat level was high because of persistent protests at the Muskrat Falls site in the fall of 2016 that resulted in costly and significant interruptions to construction, court injunctions, arrests and even hunger strikes.

Children cling to the fence outside the main gate of the Muskrat Falls work site during October 2016 protests at the Labrador construction site. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The protests were staged by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups and individuals opposed to the project, and forced the RCMP to scramble officers to Labrador in large numbers.

With that as a backdrop, the RCMP and Parsons reached out to the military for assistance, and those concerns reached all the way to Ottawa.

“There is reason to believe that between June and September of 2017 protest activities will resume,” Parsons wrote in a May 31, 2017 letter to Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of Public Safety.

Parsons was not available for an interview.

By Terry Roberts, CBC News Posted: Feb 01, 2018

[SOURCE]

Reader Submission 

Winnipeg developer suing 49 protesters in Parker Wetlands dispute

(Source: Rooster Town)

Parker Wetlands protesters have set up a legal defence fund to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

A total of 49 protesters — who camped out on the south Winnipeg site from mid-July to mid-September — have been named in a lawsuit launched by the two numbered companies that own the land.

Gem Equities is planning to develop a new residential neighbourhood and says the protesters were stopping it.

The protesters say the land holds significance for indigenous communities.

In September, a judge ordered protesters to leave, and said he would make up his mind about what kind of damages would have to be paid to the affected companies in the coming weeks.

 In court, lawyers for the land owners suggested each defendant be made to pay $10,000.

The protesters are now asking for donations to cover the costs they may have to pay.

CTV Winnipeg 

[SOURCE]

Winnipeg Judge orders Parker Lands Protesters to Go Home

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands site have been given until 6 p.m. Friday to leave the property. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Judge grants interlocutory injunction to property owners, protesters have to clear out by Friday

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands development in Winnipeg have been ordered by a judge to leave the property and clean up all their belongings by 6 p.m. Friday.

The order is part of an injunction granted by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice James Edmond Thursday afternoon.

The Parker Lands property was acquired in a land swap with the City of Winnipeg by two numbered companies connected to local developer Gem Equities.

Protesters have occupied the Fort Garry property in two encampments since July. They oppose the clearing of forested areas on the property and argue the area has historical and cultural significance to Métis and Indigenous communities.

Work on the property — which the owners described as “pre-development” — came to a standstill with the arrival of the protesters on July 14.

The injunction “means our client can get back to what they were doing in July — carrying out lawful business activities that were being stopped by illegal trespassers,” said Kevin Toyne, the lawyer for the property owners. “Our clients are quite happy that their rights have been upheld and vindicated by the courts.”

Protester not surprised by decision

Jenna Vandal, one of three protesters who made submissions Thursday opposing the injunction, said she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“I know the court institution is here to protect and enshrine property rights,” Vandal said. “Of course, I wish it happened the other way.”

Vandal, who is Métis, said the property borders the site of the long-demolished Métis settlements of Rooster Town and Tin Town.

“Métis would have used this territory for subsistence and ceremonial purposes,” she said. “That in itself gives the land much importance and value to Indigenous and Métis people.”

Inside court, Edmond noted no Indigenous or Métis community had made an entitlement claim to the land. As well, the Manitoba Métis Federation, which Vandal said supported her efforts, made no representation to court on the issue.

Edmond said the protesters had no legal right to trespass on the property and ruled the owners would suffer “irreparable harm” if the occupation was allowed to continue.

“I am satisfied that the costs of delay are real … and the plaintiffs will suffer real harm,” Edmond said.

He said the legal remedy for the protesters would be to seek a judicial review of the city’s decision to sell the property.

“To just show up and camp on somebody else’s property, there isn’t a legal right to do that,” he said.

Until now, city police have declined to intervene in the dispute, saying they would take their cue from the courts.

Edmond ordered that protesters remove all their belongings and “obstructions” from the site in a “peaceful” manner.

“I don’t want to see confrontations,” Edmond said.

The property owners are seeking an order of $10,000 in costs from each of the three defendants who were in court Thursday.

Edmond will rule on that issue after receiving written submissions from the defendants next week.

CBC News Posted: Sep 14, 2017 

[SOURCE]

Company Denied Urgent Hearing to Remove Protesters from Parker Wetlands

Owners of the Parker Lands slated for development by Gem Equities have filed a lawsuit against protesters and an injunction demanding the group leave. Demonstrators say the land is contested Indigenous land and home to endangered wildlife. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Gem Equities sought injunction to remove the protesters accused of trespassing, delaying work

By Laura Glowacki, CBC News Posted: Jul 26, 2017

A Winnipeg company hoping to develop the Parker Lands was not granted an urgent hearing for an injunction motion filed on behalf of the owner to remove protesters camped out on the land.

The lawyer representing Andrew Marquess, owner of Gem Equities, told a Winnipeg courtroom Wednesday that protesters on a piece of land slated for residential development in Fort Garry are fortifying the site and insulting the law.

“They are effectively giving the middle finger to everyone who pays their taxes and the rules of law,” said Kevin Toyne, lawyer for two numbered companies as well as Marquess.

Toyne argued that an urgent hearing is needed because the company is losing potential profits by not being able to proceed with development and there is a public safety risk.

The urgent hearing was not granted. Instead, the injunction motion will be heard on Nov 2. Defendants have until Aug. 25 to file their statement of defence.

Marquess’s company, Gem Equities, is hoping to build townhouses and apartments on the 24-hectare property known as the Parker Lands.

Protesters say the land is contested with roots in the Métis community and serves as an important habitat for birds and other animals.

Protest camp prevents further clearing

Protesters set up a small camp of about six tents on the Parker Lands last week after Gem Equities began clearing trees. The company says protesters are preventing mulching equipment from moving, making further clearing of trees on the site impossible.

A small group of protesters met outside the court on Wednesday morning.

“It’s important to me and I think a lot of people because first off, the land is beautiful and there’s a lot of animals there and people have been trying to protect it for a while,” said Maddy Jantz, one of the protesters. “But most importantly, it’s Métis land and the Métis folks were not consulted. They still haven’t been.”

Protesters have been seen holding an axe and wearing masks. Parker Lands advocate Jenna Vandal said the axe was being used to chop wood for a bonfire.

“No one would be allowed to walk in this courtroom with an axe,” Toyne told the judge. “An axe is a weapon.”

Marquess acquired the property in 2009 in a controversial land swap with the city.

Protesters set up camp last week when Gem Equities started clearing trees from the site. Earlier this year, the City of Winnipeg shredded trees as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.

The residential development Gem Equities envisions would be called Oak Grove. The plan includes high-density towers, medium-density low-rise buildings, low-density townhouses and single-family homes, arranged in concentric circles around a Southwest Transitway station plaza.

City council has not approved the area plan, rezonings or developments necessary for the company to move forward.

[SOURCE]

Protesters Camp Out to Save Parker Wetland Trees from Clearcut

Protestors, including Jenna Vandal, camp out on the Parker wetlands development site to try to stop it. BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Free Press · July 17, 2017

Protesters blocking a developer from cutting a Winnipeg forest have pledged to face criminal charges if necessary to save the trees.

“We’re going to maintain this until we’re either arrested or a moratorium is placed on clearcutting the trees,” said Jenna Vandal, an organizer of the demonstrators that set up camp on Friday.

Members of the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee rallied at the 42-acre site in Fort Garry when they noticed a large swath of trees had been cut to make way for a residential real estate development by Gem Equities Inc., the land’s legal landowners. As of Monday afternoon, two tents were pitched in the path of tree-clearing machinery, including a mulcher and a brush cutter. About 20 protesters have been at the wetlands each day.

In 2009, Gem acquired the land in what many regard as a controversial landswap with the City of Winnipeg. Gem’s Andrew Marquess told the Free Press in June there weren’t plans to remove trees on the wetlands until the company reached an agreement with the City on potential naturalized, protected greenspace locations. Last week, Marquess maintained Gem has the right, as private land owner, to clear trees from the site, although “clearing trees is not beginning development of the site.”

Marquess added development wouldn’t begin until the city approved the development plan.

Before demonstrations began, Marquess said he didn’t know exactly the area of the trees which had been cleared. One site worker confirmed 14.8 acres — over one third of the total area of the wetlands — had been cleared so far.

On the deforested plot, where thousands of trees once stood, only eight remain, surrounded by scattered bushes, mulch and a vast expanse of wood chips barely thicker than toothpicks. The strong scent of the wetlands was even more prominent than usual, as the wood dried out under the intense July sun.

“There’s silence. No sounds. No life,” as protester Laura Pearson put it.

The siteworker couldn’t say why the eight trees were left, though Dirk Hoeppner, the president of the Green Party of Manitoba, speculates the machinery there wasn’t strong enough to take down the trees, which are thicker than ones already cut down.

Hoeppner noted the area’s diverse flora and fauna including aspen trees, whitetail deer, foxes, owls and several species of plants not commonly found in Winnipeg.

Last week, Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee co-chair Cal Dueck told the Free Press the nest of a Cooper’s hawk was destroyed, however he wrote in a later email that his information was factually inaccurate; the nest was still intact.

“I apologize for any possible inference of neglect or misconduct on the part of the developer, Mr. Marques (sic), in relation to the hawks,” Dueck wrote. Dueck mentioned the destruction seriously impacted other insects, animals and plants in the area.

“The false statement on behalf of Mr. Dueck was purposeful for his group as it accused me of doing something which never occurred,” Marquess wrote to the Free Press in response.

Aside from the site’s ecological significance, Vandal, who is Métis, says the site is close to the former site of Rooster Town, a Métis settlement which disappeared as Winnipeg developed in the mid-20th century.

Vandal, the daughter of St. Boniface-St. Vital MP Dan Vandal, believes before any further work occurs on the site, First Nations and Métis people must be consulted.

“I will defend this land that cared for my Indigenous ancestors,” Vandal wrote in a Facebook post.

Vandal says she’s contacted the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and will be reaching out to the Treaty Land Entitlement Committee of Manitoba (TLEC) as the protest continues.

“This is a contentious and sensitive area when it comes to Indigenous rights,” she added. Hoeppner believes there is legal precedent to fight the development, and the group is currently consulting with lawyers to prevent further destruction. However, a spokesman for the province’s department of sustainable development said there were “no permissions” required from that office for bulldozing.

Hoeppner and Vandal say police respectfully visited the site each day since protests began. The site worker, who wouldn’t give his name, confirmed crews had called police to remove the group for trespassing. He also asked a reporter to leave the wetlands Thursday.

“We are frustrated with the apparent inability of the Winnipeg Police Service to enforce private land owner property rights,” he said. “We have contacted the police numerous times since Friday when this began and asked them to remove the trespassers from private property, and they are doing nothing.”

Vandal and other demonstrators shared a statement Thursday with a list of provisional demands, namely city consultation with the MMF, TLEC and other Indigenous groups, along with an invitation for others to join the protest or bring supplies.

Since the protestors set up camp Friday morning, no more work has been done on the site.

ben.waldman@freepress.mb.ca

[SOURCE]

‘Offensive and Disgraceful’: Protesters Cheer as City of Halifax Shrouds Cornwallis Statue

Protesters who pledged to remove a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder Saturday say they came away victorious after the monument to Edward Cornwallis was covered. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Mayor Mike Savage says veil is a temporary measure, will be removed after demonstration

By Frances Willick, CBC News Posted: Jul 15, 2017

Municipal crews draped a black cloth over a statue of Edward Cornwallis in a downtown Halifax park Saturday as protesters gathered with a plan to remove the statue.

After a city truck arrived, crews informed the gathering they would shroud the monument as a sign of good faith.

Cheers went up from the crowd as the monument disappeared under its new veil. Some demonstrators chanted and raised their fists in the air as others drummed and sang. Afterward, people joined hands and slowly circled the statue.

CBC News reporters on the scene estimated there were about 150 people at the gathering.

Cornwallis, a governor of Nova Scotia, was a military officer who founded Halifax for the British in 1749. The same year, he issued the so-called scalping proclamation, offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

Veil is temporary, says mayor

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage attended the demonstration.

He said the veil is a temporary measure and that it will be removed sometime after the demonstration, though he did not give details on the time frame.

“We said we’d leave it up for the [Aug. 7 Natal Day] ceremony,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a rush to take it down, but it will come down.”

Demonstrators gather in front of a veiled statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax on July 15, 2017. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Organizers had hoped the plan to remove the statue would prompt the city to pledge to do so itself by Natal Day. But Savage said in a statement earlier this week that a process is already in place to discuss the issue and that the removal of the statue on Saturday could “set back progress.”

Committee to begin work in September

Halifax regional council voted 15-1 in April to establish a panel to make recommendations on how to grapple with municipal infrastructure named after Cornwallis.

Savage said on Saturday that the committee members, which will include Mi’kmaq people, will likely be in place by September. A timeline for recommendations and decisions will be determined by the committee, he said.

Savage stopped short of saying he wants the statue to come down, but he called it an “obvious impediment” to reconciliation.

Protesters plan to remove this statue of Edward Cornwallis in downtown Halifax on Saturday. (The Canadian Press)

“I want to resolve the situation,” he said. “I don’t think the status quo is good.”

Indigenous activists said Saturday they will continue negotiating with the city to peacefully remove the statue.

‘It brings back pain’

Patrick LeBlanc, an Indigenous man from Digby, N.S., said the statue is a painful reminder of the oppression of First Nations people in Canada.

“This gentleman here represented a genocide for our people,” LeBlanc said. “And to see it every day, it just brings back memories and it also brings back pain.”

LeBlanc said simply covering the statue isn’t enough. He would like to see it replaced with something that will give restitution and healing.

A crowd of about 150 people gathered at the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax’s Cornwallis Park on July 15, 2017. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Protester Daniel Arnot said removing the statue shows support for reconciliation with Indigenous people.

“I think some people should open their eyes and listen to people who are just making a humble request that this offensive and disgraceful homage to colonial history is removed,” he said.

A small number of people who attended the event appeared to hold dissenting opinions of Cornwallis, as at least one man began shouting at the protesters and another showed up with a U.K. flag.

Police presence

Halifax Regional Police said Saturday morning that officers would be on the scene to ensure a peaceful demonstration can take place.

But police “will respond to any criminal acts that take place,” a spokesperson for the police force said in an emailed  statement.

It’s unclear how activists planned to take the statue down. It stands on a stone pedestal about two and a half to three metres off the ground.

Site of protests in past

The statue has been altered by protesters in the past. In 2016, someone splattered red paint across the statue and the pedestal.

The site was also the scene of an Indigenous protest on Canada Day in which a woman shaved her head and placed her two braids at the foot of the statue. The woman said she wanted her action to bring attention to issues including Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people and the environment.

At that protest, members of the group Proud Boys showed up and told the gathering that they were “disrespecting General Cornwallis.”

[SOURCE]