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Indigenous protest camp to meet with ministers after Canada Day

Six teepees now stand at the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp. Taryn Snell / Global News

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp will meet with the provincial government 125 days after setting up their camp outside the Legislative Building in Wascana Park. The two sides will meet on July 2nd.

The camp was dismantled on June 18 after being served a June 5 eviction notice for breaking park bylaws. Six people were taken into police custody, but no charges were filed.

The original teepee was put back up on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day. It is now joined by five other teepees. Camp representative Robyn Pitawanakwat said the meeting will take place in Fort Qu’Appelle at the Treaty 4 Governance Centre in the glass teepee.

“Chief Edmund Bellgarde from the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council reached out to us, and I believe reached he also reached out to the provincial government and has been able to find something that works for everybody,” Pitawanakwat explained.

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READ MORE: Growing number of teepees now at Justice for Our Stolen Children camp

The camp has been wanting to meet with the province where they are set up in the park. Justice Minister Don Morgan has said they want to meet in a private setting in case matters involving personal cases are discussed.

“File Hills, they’ve made it possible for us to bring all of our people and they will supply transportation and will accommodate us in every way they can,” Pitawankwat said.

The File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council also provided the second teepee that was set up at the camp.

In addition to Morgan, the province has confirmed that Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman, Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff and Minister responsible for First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs Warren Kaeding will be in attendance.

Pitawanakwat said the camp is still discussing what issues they would like to focus on at the meeting.

READ MORE:
Stats Canada: Indigenous youth over-represented in Saskatchewan prisons

Justice issues have been one of the camps focuses, having formed after the verdicts in the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases. Systemic issues of racism are also a motivating factor of the camp, something that’s been made apparent by visitors.

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“Every Indigenous person that has walked into this camp not only has a missing or murdered loved one, but they also have family members that have been apprehended by social services,” Pitawanakwat said. “They also have family members who have been incarcerated on minor charges. One family has all the issues, and that seems to be the case with every family that comes in here.”

Canada Day

The area of Wascana Park where the teepees are located traditionally plays a role in hosting a portion of Regina’s Canada Day festivities.

Regina’s Canada Day committee announced Tuesday that portions of the event will take place on the north side of Wascana Lake, near the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

Certain events, like the Plywood Cup and Western Canada’s Strongest Man, will take place in their usual spots near the Albert Street Bridge and Legislative Building parking lot.

The press release from the committee does not list a reason for the change, but describes it as a return to tradition as Canada Day events have previously occupied that northern section of the park.

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