Saskatchewan

Teepee removed after police arrest protesters at 'justice' camp near Sask. Legislature

On Monday, police handcuffed several protesters at the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp, which had been in place near the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina for more than 100 days.

Province posted eviction notices at camp 2 weeks ago

Three Regina Police Service officers carried a protester to a police vehicle when police dismantled the camp in June. It has since been rebuilt. (CBC)

On Monday, police arrested six people from the teepee near the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina.

Hours later the teepee — the only remaining part of the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp — was dismantled by authorities.

The camp's supporters were arrested for obstruction because they wouldn't leave the teepee, according to Insp. Darcy Koch of the Regina Police Service. He said it would be dangerous to take down the teepee with people inside. 
Regina Police Service officers arrested activists and supporters from the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp teepee near the Sask. Legislature in Regina. 0:29

"We've just watched the most important people in camp be hauled away. Some of them violently," said camp supporter Robyn Pitawanakwat as people were taken into custody. 

"It symbolizes that we are still the least important thing for government, that to have a Canada celebration without Indigenous poverty in people's faces is more important than to actually deal with Indigenous poverty and Indigenous issues in general." 

The protesters set up in the park 111 days ago, after Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier were acquitted in the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine murder trials, respectively.

Founders said the intention was to draw attention to Indigenous lives lost or affected due to factors like violence, foster care or addictions.
Government officials had previously stated the camp would be "disruptive" to Canada Day events planned for the park.  
A Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp supporter is removed from the camp by police officers. (CBC)

The province issued an eviction notice to the activists two weeks ago. On Friday, tents and other property that surrounded the teepee were dismantled.

 
​Police arrived at the camp around 2 p.m. CST.
Two weeks ago, the province issued an eviction notice to the protesters. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Koch said the plan was to have Wascana Centre Authority employees take down the teepee once the fire went out. 

Koch said he couldn't speak to how others were feeling or how this might affect relationships between police and Indigenous people.

He said what happened Monday was a joint operation between the Wascana Centre Authority, the Provincial Capital Commission and police.

No charges had been laid as of Monday afternoon, but police will be investigating.

"I think it's an emotional time," he said.

"It's not fun for the police service; it's not fun for the campers." 

After the eviction notices were posted, campers said what they wanted most was for government officials to meet with them at the camp.

Government officials previously said they asked protesters to meet with them at the Legislative Building, and then at Wascana Place. However, they declined to meet with protesters at the camp.
Regina Police officers remove a protester at the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp near the Saskatchewan legislature. (CBC)

Justice Minister Don Morgan said he supported the decision to have the camp torn down, but is open to having discussions with the protesters. 

"The park is not intended for overnight camping," he said. 

Morgan said he himself walked over to the camp after a cabinet session last week and spoke with people, although he had given no prior notice of his attendance. 

Pitawanakwat said it was a reoccurring issue in which officials would come to the camp without warning. 

"They would wait until we weren't all here. They would wait until our elder wasn't here, and then they would pop into camp and now they're claiming those were meetings. Those were never meetings." 

With files from Stephanie Taylor