Sask. government says Indigenous camp near legislature will 'disrupt' Canada Day events

The province has given the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp set up in Wascana Park until 5 p.m. Tuesday to tear down the teepee and tents. The campers say they have no intention of moving.

Camp founder Prescott Demas says he has no plans to pack up

The camp has been set up in front of the Legislature for almost 100 days. Now the provincial government has ordered the campers to leave. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

The province has issued an eviction notice to the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp that is set up in Wascana Park across from the Saskatchewan Legislature building.

The Provincial Capital Commission issued a notice to the group — in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and Regina Police Service — that states the group must cease their activities under the Trespassing Act. 

The notice says the tents, the teepee and all other property must be removed by 5:00 p.m. CST Tuesday. 

"I'm not leaving," Prescott Demas, one of the founders of the camp, said Tuesdsay morning. "We want justices for our injustices." 
The camp was formed in the wake of the Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier acquittals, but the camp's focus is on all Indigenous children and the issues faced by the community. 
Prescott Demas is pictured at the camp on June 5, 2018 — just hours before the camp was supposed to be torn down by. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

As of Tuesday, the camp had been set up for 98 days. 

​"In the winter, it was so easy to dismiss us," Demas said.

"But as winter turns to spring and spring turns to summer,  they have events planned here. Now that pushes (them) to get us out of here." 

The government first issued notice on the first day of the camp, said Richard Murray, who is deputy minister of Central Services.

"To be honest with you, you know, we've kind of looked the other way for the last close to 100 days," he said.

Government cites Canada Day concerns 

Prescott Demas said he wasn't surprised to see the notices stapled to the trees around the camp. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Murray said the government has acted now because of upcoming events and the security team scheduled to work Canada Day raised concerns.

There are several activities like a pancake breakfast, a human flag and beer gardens planned for July 1, so the camp's presence is "extremely disruptive to Canada Day events and you know, we're just not looking forward to having to move an event that frankly fills the entire park."

"It's disruptive. We're worried about security of everyone in the park on Canada Day and that's probably an unneeded disruption there."

Murray spoke with reporters prior to the 5 p.m. deadline and said an "appropriate course of action" would be decided come 5 p.m. should the group remain on the grounds. 

Demas said there was an attempt made to meet with government last week  but officials declined to meet in the teepee. 

"That was — is — considered to be an inappropriate meeting location on our side," said Murray.
The government told the group to leave the day the camp was set up, said Richard Murray, deputy minister of Central Services. (Craig Edwards/CBC)

"The teepee in our minds is an illegal activity in the park." 

Murray said he suggested meeting at the Wascana Place as a "neutral location" because it wasn't the Legislature Building.

He said he is aware the campers don't plan to leave, but is "hopeful" they will change their minds.
Deputy Minister of Central Services Richard Murray said five events planned for the park were relocated because of the camp. (Craig Edwards/CBC)

The group could face criminal charges under the Trespassing Act if they don't, Murray said.

Demas said he doesn't know how long the camp will stick around and is calling on the government to listen to what the group is saying.

"This is all stolen land. That's how I feel about it," Demas said.