Justice camp representatives to meet with province after Canada Day
6 teepees now stand at Wascana Park
Protestors at the Justice for our Stolen Children camp say they will consider taking down a growing number of teepees after a meeting with officials on July 2, despite multiple statements from the provincial government saying it wanted the camp out before scheduled Canada Day celebrations.
Robyn Pitawanakwat, a representative from the camp which sits near Saskatchewan's legislature building in Regina, said Chief Edmund Bellegarde with the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) set the meeting time and location. Those at the camp found out on Monday night that the province agreed to discuss their concerns in Fort Qu'Appelle, at the Treaty 4 signing grounds.
Pitawanakwat said she expects to meet with Minister of Justice Don Morgan, Minister of Education Gord Wyant, Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman, Minister responsible for First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs Affairs Warren Kaeding and Minister responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission (which includes Wascana Park) Ken Cheveldayoff.
The provincial government has been vocal about its wishes that the camp be taken down in time for Canada Day at the park.
On Monday, Cheveldayoff reiterated that the protestors are breaking the law by camping overnight in the park, but deferred to Regina police on the matter of removing the camp again. RPS has still been making daily visits to the camp.
The number of teepees at the camp has instead grown to six and supporters say they will remain intact on Canada Day. There are now teepees from FHQTC, Pasqua First Nation, Piapot First Nation and Peepeekisis First Nation.
"These are issues that each of these First Nations and each of these larger communities are dealing with," she said. "It reinforces our need to be here and it reinforces our strength and our stamina to stay."
Pitawanakwat said Canada Day organizers have expressed willingness to change their set-up to accommodate the camp.
"I think that indigenous people have been accommodating long enough. I don't think it's up to us to be accommodating at this point," she said.
Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Regina on Canada Day, Pitawanakwat said they have not invited him to the camp. She said they would welcome him if he did want to visit.
Prescott Demas, who has been at the camp since it was set up on Feb. 28, said he doesn't consider setting up a meeting a success.
"We did have a meeting set for before and nothing became of that," he said. "Not until we're actually there in the room, across the table from them, would I consider us getting anywhere.
"We're still here doing the same thing."
The Government of Saskatchewan said in a statement that it, "has always been open to a meeting with this group and has offered several dates previously."
A spokesperson confirmed that a meeting date has been set for July 2 and several Ministers will attend including Morgan, Wyant, Merriman, Kaeding and Cheveldayoff. The province says the premier is not scheduled to be in Regina next week and therefore will not be attending the meeting.
Pitawanakwat said they will be bringing up issues with child and family services, youth incarceration, cold cases and criminal investigations.
She said those at the camp will evaluate the outcome of the meeting and decide whether to remain at the park.