An Indigenous protester group, which established a camp on the Wascana grounds across from the legislature more than 100 days ago, is extending a formal invitation with government officials.
The organizer of the camp, Prescott Demas, says he wants to meet with Social Services Minister Paul Merriman, Justice Minister Don Morgan and Central Services deputy minister Richard Murray.
Demas is proposing the meeting take place at their location and not in the legislative building.
“They agreed to meet with us out here. They opened up negotiations to try to get us to go in the building. I, myself and other people here are more comfortable in being in a setting, where we are comfortable, than somewhere less intimidating than having to go in there,” said Demas.
The invitation request comes approximately ten days after the Provincial Capital Commission posted eviction notices on nearby trees to have the protesters stop certain activities and remove their personal belongings. The protesters have ignored the notices, which are still posted and the Capital Commission will not enforce the eviction order.
When pressed on what he wants to discuss with the government, Demas says he wants to start to talk about some of the injustices facing Indigenous peoples.
“There are many cases out there. Look at all the missing and murdered Indigenous women that have yet to be investigated properly. It’s a systemic problem. We just have to start that dialogue,” Demas stated. “I’ve always been hoping that they would come out and talk to us, here some place that is more comfortable to us.”
The central services ministry says in written statement that it has tried unsuccessfully several times to organize a meeting.
“The Government of Saskatchewan has attempted to arrange several meetings with the leadership at the camp. Recently, a meeting was planned for Tuesday, May 29 with the minister of justice, the minister of social services, the minister of central services and the minister of government relations and was to include a smudging ceremony, conversation and lunch in the legislature and was agreed to by the group. However, the night before this meeting, we were informed members of the group would no longer be attending this meeting inside the legislature. Alternative dates were proposed, but no agreement was reached.”
(PHOTO: Camp on Wascana grounds. Photo by Dan Jones.)