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New court date in Saskatchewan’s fight to get teepee off legislature lawn

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan seeks court order to remove teepee from legislature lawn' Saskatchewan seeks court order to remove teepee from legislature lawn
WATCH: The protest camp in Wascana Park will remain for at least a few more weeks. As Kayleen Sawatzky reports, a hearing to deal with the government’s court order has been adjourned into September – Aug 13, 2020

A protest camp in Wascana Park will remain for at least a few more weeks.

Tristen Durocher has been in the park staging a hunger strike in an effort to push the province to do more to address suicides.

On Thursday, a Regina judge was scheduled to hear a request from the Saskatchewan government for the removal of his camp from the legislature’s lawn.

However, Durocher’s lawyer raised a constitutional question relating to freedom of expression.

The Crown wants the matter dealt with soon because Durocher plans to end his fast and leave the park on September 13.

Justice Graeme Mitchell agreed to adjourn the hearing until Sept. 4, nine days before the protest ends.

Read more: Saskatchewan government files court application against Tristen Durocher

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The 24-year-old Indigenous man walked more than 600 kilometres to Regina from a community in northern Saskatchewan to call for legislative action to address high suicide rates in the region.

Durocher, who is on a tea fast until mid-September, says grieving families have been coming to the site.

Court documents filed by the province say the man doesn’t have a permit and that overnight camping and fires are prohibited in the park.

The documents say Durocher has been made aware of the rules and Regina police won’t enforce them without a court order.

Read more: Sask. government meets with suicide prevention advocate protesting at legislature

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In its application, the government says the camp poses “public health and safety risks” and those who are there “have no intention of abiding by the reasonable limitations on the use of public space.”

It’s the second time in two years that the government has gone to court to get Indigenous protesters and teepees off that section of lawn.

In 2018, a group set up what it called the Justice For Our Stolen Children camp after acquittals in the high-profile deaths of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan and Tina Fontaine in Manitoba.

Protesters spent months there calling attention to racial injustice and the high number of Indigenous children in care, until a judge ordered the camp dismantled.

– With files from Kayleen Sawatzky.

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