Six people were briefly arrested and detained by Regina Police for obstructing justice Monday at Wascana Park as authorities enforced an eviction order.
The Indigenous protesters established a camp 111 days ago, but did not remove their property by Sunday at noon, as agreed upon Friday morning.
A teepee and sacred fire remained Monday morning as organizer Prescott Demas vowed the camp would not be leaving. He was among the six arrested.
In implementing the eviction order, police said they would recognize and respect cultural practices in allowing the sacred fire to burnout and for the proper dismantling of the teepee.
Tensions between police and protesters remained high throughout much of the afternoon. Colten Boushie’s mom Debbie Baptise called the end of the camp a sad day, but says this is not the end.
“This is not over. We’re just cutting a path for the next generation. The next generation is going to be more educated more powerful,” Baptise stated before the teepee came down. “We’re just going to keep going. We’re going to keep setting up our camps. We’re going to keep lighting our fires we will not stop.”
Last week FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron urged the government to meet with the protesters, to listen to their concerns. Justice Minister Don Morgan stated he and several ministers have tried unsuccessfully to meet, committing again to a meeting once the camp is dismantled.
Morgan says he hopes the government’s relations with First Nations will not be impacted by the incident. “I don’t want this to be a setback. My intention is to try to reach out and to try to restore some ongoing dialogue with Chief Cameron and others,” Morgan said.
The six detained people were released later Monday evening, following the dismantlement of the teepee. It is unknown if they are facing criminal charges.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling on the Sask. government to honour the Inherent and Treaty Rights of First Nations children. “We have been advocating for many years to attain the same treatment and opportunities for our First Nations children to succeed in life” says FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “Their Inherent and Treaty Rights are not being honoured. The current child welfare system is failing and contributing to many of the social problems our children are forced to endure. The solutions are in our communities. We know what is best for our children and what will help them succeed in life.”
Cameron expressed his disappointment that protesters were removed from an Indigenous camp, just days before National Aboriginal Day. “When intruding on Sacred items and traditions, Creators natural laws will take care of the wrongdoings” adds Chief Cameron. “We call for respect and peace to rectify the Provincial Child Welfare System that is failing.”
(The teepee at Wascana Park being dismantled. By Dan Jones)