Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is backing calls for police to remove teepees that protesters have set up on the legislature grounds, forcing changes to Canada Day plans.
Moe says there are laws that cover the park surrounding the provincial legislature to ensure that it’s available to everyone.
“The fact (is) that the protests that we do see across the way are breaking laws here, and those laws should be enforced,” Moe said Thursday.
The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp was set up to protest racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.
The camp started in late February and was dismantled early last week before being set up again June 21 with more teepees.
Bylaws prohibit overnight camping, placement of structures and burning wood and other combustibles in the park.
The Provincial Capital Commission said on Wednesday that it has had to make alterations to its Canada Day festivities, because the space where the camp is situated normally has a concert stage and beer gardens.
Regina police have said there’s no need to step in at this point, because a meeting is scheduled for Monday between the protesters and five government ministers in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle.
Camp protester Robyn Pitawanakwat said Thursday that she thinks there are laws being broken by pushing out peaceful protests.
“There are charter rights that are being put in violation when that happens,” she said. “Breaking the law is not just one sided in this regard. Bylaws are very minor and charter rights supersede those.”
Moe said it’s the government’s expectation that the teepees will be removed either before or after the meeting. As of Thursday morning, there were nine teepees at the camp.
“We continue to work with First Nations leaders across the province on the issues that have been raised just here,” Moe said. “If the teepees are removed previous to that (meeting), that would be positive as well.”
Pitawanakwat said there needs to be a focus on justice before the teepees are removed.
“We need families coming home,” she said. “We need to have children put back in biological family settings that are open and willing to take them.”
Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press