Protest camp taken down by Regina police early Friday morning
“They showed up in their big white dump trucks and hauled away people’s possessions, their homes,” Robyn Pitawanakwat, a spokesperson for Colonialism No More, said flatly.
Early Friday morning, the Regina Police Service fulfilled the province’s promise and began tearing down the makeshift camp – Justice For Our Stolen Children – that has been parked in front of the provincial legislative assembly for 108 days.
“It’s devastating. So many people have put their love, their energy, their all into this camp.” Pitawanakwat continued. “It has brought healing to many families that have not been able to find that kind of support anywhere else.”
Most demonstrators were still sleeping when the demolition began, but despite the early morning commotion there was no violence, and no arrests were made.
“You’re woken up and it’s kind of chaotic and you’re just shuffled along,” Gaylene Henry, a camp supporter said.
“There is nothing peaceful about removing families indigenous or otherwise from land. This is part of our history though, we are used to being displaced,” Pitawanakwat sneered.
WATCH: Indigenous camp evicted by Regina Police early Friday morning
“We let them do their job, but I don’t think we were heard,” Henry added.
The sentiment has been a theme of the camp: speaking for the voices they feel are being ignored, and seeking justice for their stolen children.
Adding to that feeling was the timing of the eviction.
“Just days before National Aboriginal Day – while Treaty Four and Metis flags are flying on the bridge behind us – this is when they decided to clear out the indigenous people, in preparation for Canada Day. So that settlers can have their beautiful Canada Day without the eyesore of Indigenous poverty in front of them,” Pitawanakwat protested.
“The area around Wascana is not intended to be a campground. It’s there for the benefit and use of all citizens, and we’ve had a number of events over the last while that we’ve had to postpone or move,” Justice Minister Don Morgan argued.
“We know that Canada Day is coming and we know that a lot of people go there on that day, but I can’t say this is specific (to that).” Morgan continued.
The action comes after the provincial government served an eviction notice to the camp twelve days earlier.
All the tents have been removed, but the teepee in the centre of the camp is allowed to stay up for another 48 hours.
“We just sat back and let them take down the structures and remove the structure. They did the job they had to do and we did the job we had to do,” Henry noted.
Whether or not that job will continue is unknown. Campers haven’t said if they plan to adhere to the 48 hour timeline.
The camp was built after the acquittals of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier in the deaths of Colten Boushie and Winnipeg’s Tina Fontaine.
“We need to find a way to support these families because they are going through this process by themselves. And that is not acceptable,” Pitawanakwat stated.
The province says multiple ministers have visited the camp and offered to set up formal meetings, but demonstrators refused.
They also noted that various ministers have talked to the camp informally over the more than three months that it was there.
Despite the eviction, the demonstrators are still hoping their message will be heard.
“We will never give up fighting for our children,” Henry proclaimed.
With files from Sarah Komadina
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