Teepee back up at Sask. Legislature 3 days after camp members arrested by police
Crowd gathered at the legislative building on National Indigenous Peoples Day
A teepee was re-erected in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday evening, after people were made to take it down by park and provincial authorities earlier this week.
"Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, and what better way to celebrate that than bringing back the teepee that had been here for 111 days prior to that," said Robyn Pitawanakwat, a spokesperson for Colonialism No More.
The teepee was part of the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp, which was spurred by the acquittals of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier 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. After being served an eviction notice earlier this month, most of the camp in Wascana Centre was dismantled last week.
Members refused to take down the teepee by a given deadline on Sunday, so Regina police arrived Monday. They arrested six people for obstruction of justice but Pitawanakwat said there had been no charges laid.
We are here to stay, as long as there is a need for us and there is support to back that up.- Robyn Pitawanakwat, Colonialism No More
When asked about potential police activity against the newly erected teepee, she said camp organizers did not necessarily have any conflict with Regina police, and believed police Chief Evan Bray when he spoke about his dedication to reconciliation.
Le tipi est de retour au parc Wascana. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rcsk?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#rcsk</a> <a href="https://t.co/CbVMpYSKa5">pic.twitter.com/CbVMpYSKa5</a>—@MirianeDL
"We are here to stay, as long as there is a need for us and there is support to back that up," she said, adding that the camp had seen a "huge outpouring" of support in the wake of the teepee being taken down.
Police say 'it's status quo for now'
Staff Sgt. Dean Yadlowski said police had been informed about a traffic disturbance, with a round dance blocking traffic both ways on Albert Street, and had responded to conduct traffic control.
Police had heard about the teepee being erected, and came by to observe what was happening, he said.
"We didn't engage anybody or take any enforcement action, or anything like that," he said, noting there were no complaints made at this time, and that police would reassess if the circumstances changed.
"I think it's status quo for now."
Round dance held on bridge
The round dance that coincided with the re-establishment of the teepee took place on Albert Street bridge, with people drumming and singing as vehicles waited for them to finish. Honks of support filled the air once they finished their song and moved on to join those at the nearby camp.
Eveningstar Andreas said the round dance is held periodically, to raise awareness about Indigenous issues including poverty, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, or racism.
For her, seeing photos and videos of peaceful protesters removed from the camp was just another reason to stand up and be seen.
"We gotta keep doing this so people understand what we're going through here," she said.
"The teepee is back up and we're going to keep doing this, until people realize we're on Mother Earth together and no more racism."
With files from Janani Whitfield