A Saskatchewan judge has ordered the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp out of Wascana Park in Regina.
In a ruling handed down on Sept. 7, Justice Ysanne Wilkinson said the court cannot endorse the protesters’ claims they have a right to camp at the park on an indefinite basis.
“In terms of normative values, society has achieved more through order than disorder, more through respect for the law than disregard of the law’s application,” Wilkinson wrote.
“The protesters’ occupation of the West Lawn, in the shadow of the most influential building in the province, although claimed in the pursuit of heartfelt grievances, serves in the end to diminish the rights of all others to access the space and enjoy the same fundamental freedoms and values claimed by the occupiers.”
Wilkinson ordered the protesters, on the 192nd day of the camp, to immediately leave the park.
She also authorized police to provide assistance to the Provincial Capital Commission and the Saskatchewan government if the protesters refuse to leave.
In August, Crown attorney Michael Morris argued the camp’s presence on the west lawn of Wascana Park is usurping to the government’s ability to administer the publicly owned land. Morris’ arguments also heavily relied on numerous bylaw infractions from the camp.
Morris argued that since February, and more specifically on June 21, the camp has grown to include 15 teepees and other structures. This makes the camp the “defacto administrator.”
During the hearing Justice for Our Stolen Children attorney, Daniel LeBlanc argued the province violated the charter right to freedom of expression when the camp was evicted on June 18.
LeBlanc said teepees and sacred fire, which has been burning since Feb. 28, are key symbols in the protest.
Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said in a statement that the province is pleased with the decision made by the Court.
“We expect the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp will abide by the Court Order and remove the tepees and other structures from Wascana Centre within a reasonable time,” Cheveldayoff said.
“If they fail to obey the court order, the order gives the Wascana Centre Authority and the police the full authority to remove these structures.”
Regina Police Service sent out a statement that Chief Evan Bray has indicated his first actions will include taking time to read the decision thoroughly, reflect on the Order, and consult with stakeholders.
As the Regina Police Service retains discretion as to the manner of enforcement of the Order, there is time to communicate with all parties with the goal of achieving a peaceful resolution.
Protestors of the camp were also arrested in June and Wilkinson dismissed an application by six of the protesters to have their arrests in declared illegal.
Below is the full court ruling
with files from David Baxter and Dave Giles