Campers outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building calling for change
While residents in Regina continue to dig out after this week’s snow storm, it hasn’t phased a group of people who are camping across the street from the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.
For ten days now, the group has been calling for change for Indigenous peoples and joining in solidarity with other camps in Calgary and Winnipeg.
“We have all these issues with the child welfare system and our poverty levels, the justice system and how we fill up the jails,” Organizer Prescott Demas said. “All these things, they’re all part of the [bigger] picture and that’s what we want to address and bring awareness to.”
It comes on the heels of not guilty verdicts in the trials of Gerald Stanley who was charged with killing Colton Boushie and Raymond Cormier who was charged in the death of Tina Fontaine.
On March 7, the crown decided not to appeal Gerald Stanley’s acquittal.
“I’m not too surprised that they will not seek an appeal,” Demas said. “We’ve never been part of society, and the whole system just works against us.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Regina on March 9 and addressed the issue on the Global News Morning Show.
“We know there are a lot of deep systemic challenges within our country’s institutions, and not just the justice system when it comes to reconciliation, when it comes to building a strong future for all Canadians, including Indigenous Canadians,” Trudeau said. “That’s why whether it’s on health, whether it’s on education, whether it’s on entrepreneurship, or whether it’s on issues in the justice system, we have an awful lot of work to do.”
READ MORE: Justin Trudeau in Regina
It’s a conversation many at the camp are hoping to have in order to break down stereotypes and reconcile differences.
“I’m hoping that I can put a little spark in their head that will make them open their eyes and look at themselves and perhaps share that with somebody else,” Demas said.
When the group first set- up camp, Demas said they received an eviction notice from Provincial Capital Commission, but haven’t heard anything since. Demas also added that the group paid for a porta-potty which was eventually removed.
A statement to Global News from Provincial Capital Commission said:
We recognize freedom of expression as a fundamental right in Canada guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. However, the activities by this group in the Wascana Centre are in violation of a number of restrictions and bylaws that are in place. Activities including overnight camping and fires are prohibited in the park. A permit is required for all activities and protests and this group has yet to contact us for a permit. Contact information to obtain a permit has been provided to this group several times. We want to work together with this group and hope they will reach out to us and abide by the rules, but this has not taken place to-date. The seasonal restrooms located within Wascana Centre are not open to the public during the winter as they are unheated structures and would be prone to water pipes freezing and bursting. External bathroom rentals are allowed for events in Wascana Centre, but have never been permitted for long-term use such as camping overnight in the park. For this reason, the rental company hired by this group to supply external bathrooms was asked to remove them.
But no matter what Mother Nature has in store next, Demas said until they start to see changes, they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
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