'We're not going anywhere': Teepee camp movement spreads to Saskatoon

A Saskatoon man has set up a teepee in Saskatoon's Victoria Park. A similar camp in Regina has swelled to 14 teepees.

Healing Camp For Justice set up in connection with Regina camp in Wascana Park

The first teepee in Saskatoon's Healing Camp For Justice was set up Tuesday night. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

A Saskatoon group has set up a teepee camp in Saskatoon's Victoria Park and organizers hope its membership will quickly grow..

The Healing Camp For Justice was set up in connection with a similar camp in Regina, where 14 teepees have been raised near the Saskatchewan Legislature.

The first teepee was set up Tuesday night by Chris Martell, father of a 22-month-old boy who drowned while in foster care in 2010.

"I'm here to the very end," said Martell. "This is my home now."

Much like the Regina camp, Saskatoon's Healing Camp For Justice plans to focus on Indigenous children who have been placed in the care of social services. 

"We want reform of the Child and Family Services system," said camp member Nancy Greyeyes. "In my work, we work with families who are willing to work towards getting our kids back. And a lot of the times, the effort is just not made."

The camp members said they want to create a safe space for people who want to talk about Indigenous children in care and receive counselling. They said everyone is welcome to visit.

Chris Martel, Dave Lyons-Morgan, and Nancy Greyeyes say they have no plans to go anywhere. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

"Bring your good hopes and your good thoughts," said Greyeyes. "The idea for healing is people sharing their stories."

It's not clear whether the Saskatoon camp will prove as controversial as the Regina incarnation.

In June, Regina police dismantled the camp, although it was brought back several days later.

This is my home now.- Chris Martell

The provincial government wants the Wascana Park camp taken down. Representatives of the Regina camp met with three provincial cabinet ministers earlier this month, but were unable to come to an agreement. 

On Saturday, Regina police confiscated a knife from a man who was shouting 'Heil Hitler' from a man who had set up close to the camp.

The Saskatoon camp hasn't been deterred.

"We're not going anywhere," said Greyeyes. "First Nations were here when everybody else got here, and we're still here.

A delegation from the City of Saskatoon met with the group's organizers Wednesday afternoon to make sure all the appropriate protocols are in place.

With files from Bridget Yard.