REGINA — Police have arrested protesters who remained at a camp on the lawn outside the Saskatchewan legislature, but said they would allow a sacred fire to burn down before removing a teepee from the site.
Demonstrators at the "Justice for our Stolen Children" camp had been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.
Police and government officials evicted most of the camp on Friday morning and the remaining people were supposed to have left the site by noon Sunday.
Supt. Darcy Koch says an agreement was made with the campers that the teepee would be taken down, but it wasn't, so police were there to "assist with that."
Members of the camp have said that they want to talk to government officials about their concerns, but so far the two groups have not been able to come together for such a meeting.
Justice Minister Don Morgan says he wants to reach out to the campers in the coming days, but will wait until emotions aren't as high.
"You don't need to have a tent up in Wascana to have a meeting and reach out to government," Morgan said.
Police arrived on scene at the camp around 2 p.m. on Monday and took five protesters into custody for obstruction. No charges have been laid.
The camp was set up in late February in response to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the 2016 death of Colten Boushie, as well as the acquittal of Raymond Cormier in the death of Manitoba teen Tina Fontaine.
Stanley, a farmer, was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death Boushie, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.
Fontaine was a 15-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was found in a Winnipeg river in 2014.
Jim Billington, a spokesman for Premier Scott Moe, said last week the government respects everyone's right to peaceful protest but that the camp violated a ban on overnight camping, burning wood and putting up signs in the park surrounding the legislature.
He said the protesters had been told several times since March that they were breaking the law and were given an eviction notice on June 5.
Morgan said he didn't want the removal of the camp to be a setback in the government's relationship with First Nations in Saskatchewan. He said he will be reaching out to Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, in the coming days, and has plans to travel to Red Pheasant First Nation.
(CTV Regina, The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press