Regina police took matters into their own hands today, bringing a protest in the park to an end as they started to apprehend and arrest campers at the Justice for our Stolen Children camp in Wascana Park.
Six protestors were arrested for obstructing justice Monday afternoon. One of the camp organizers Prescott Demas was among those arrested. As of Monday afternoon, no one has been charged. Police said they are also investigating potential trespassing charges.
A lawyer representing those arrested spoke with police on scene around 5 p.m., three hours after police initially arrived on scene.
It was an emotional afternoon at the camp, which had long been calling for meetings with provincial officials such as Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan.
“I don’t think any other group would have had to have waited outside for 111 days and instead of having their issues addressed, have their members dragged out,” protestor Robyn Pitawanakwat said.
On May 24, Central Services Minister Ken Chevedayoff had told the camp they were violating park bylaws and would soon be evicted, however, that warning was ignored, triggering the eviction notice which was served on June 5.
The eviction notice had said that failure to comply is contrary to The Trespass to Property Act, and would be dealt with accordingly.
“We had an agreement with the organizers of this camp that we would respect culture and respect their request to have time to properly distinguish their fire and to take their teepee down and we said that we 100% agree with that, and then 48 hours went by and they chose not to take the camp down,” said Darcy Koch, Regina police superintendent.
Morgan said he went out to the camp last week to speak with them after a cabinet meeting. He showed up unannounced, but the camp leadership was not present at the time. He said he wants to meet with them in the future once a mutually agreed upon date can be established.
Morgan said he does not want this event to be a set back in relations between the First Nations community and provincial government.
“My intention is to try and reach out and try and restore some ongoing dialogue with [Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations] Chief Bobby Cameron, and with some others. I also made a commitment last week when I was out there that I was willing to go to Red Pheasant reserve and meet with the chief,” Morgan said.
Red Pheasant was the home of Colten Boushie. T
he camp was set up in Wascana Park across from the Legislative Building to bring issues of systemic racism in the child welfare, justice and correction system to light and was formed shortly after the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the Colten Boushie murder trial.
After the six arrests, police allowed those still at the camp to reenter the teepee and watch over their sacred fire as it burned out. It goes against tradition to extinguish a sacred fire, and it must burn out on it’s own.
As the final embers smoldered, Debbie Baptiste, Boushie’s mother, came out of the teepee to share a statement with the media.
“This is not over. We’re just cutting a path for the next generation. The next generation’s going to be more educated, more powerful. We’re just going to keep going. We’re going to keep setting up our camps. We’re going to keep lighting our fires. We will not stop. I’m not going to stop until change is made in the courtrooms, in the government,” Baptiste said.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.