One week after the original teepee at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp was removed, a growing number have been added in Wascana Park. The original teepee stood for 111 days before being taken down on June 18 after several protestors were arrested.
The teepee was put back up on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day. There are now six teepees in Wascana Park as of Monday afternoon.
The original teepee is now joined by teepees from the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, Piapot First Nation and Peepeekisis First Nation. The other two teepees are being supplied by private owners.
“People want to get behind the camp. They want to show their support, and this is a way they can do that very visibly,” camp spokesperson Robyn Pitawanakwat said.
Pitawanakwat added she believes the way the camp was removed last week is playing a role in the growing number of teepees.
“People were very affected by the idea that removing Indigenous people from the land, a peaceful group of people, by the provincial government which is a much newer government than all the Indigenous governments that are here, was inappropriate,” she said.
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“That should never have been allowed, and that there are treaty rights in place that they can attest to. We have shared use of this land and we should be able to maintain our space here.”
The Provincial Capital Commission, which oversees Wascana Park, issued an eviction notice to the park on June 5. The notice said the camp was violating park bylaws, which includes camping overnight.
“Structures are not allowed to remain in place, and it will be up to the Regina Police Service to enforce the law in that regard,” Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said Monday.
“What our concern is, is the safety. Not only of individuals planning to attend Canada Day, but the safety of individuals that are in the structures as well. We want to have a valuable safe, pleasant experience for all that chose to visit the park.”
Justice Minister Don Morgan said he is willing to meet with the camp in a private boardroom setting June 18.
The camp formed in response to verdicts in the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases. It also serves as a protest for other systemic issues facing First Nations people.
The group plans to continue their protest until they see action from the government.