Justice for Our Stolen Children camp ordered to vacate legislature grounds
The Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday ordered protesters to tear down the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp in front of the legislature – nearly 200 days after it was built.
The order says the west lawn, where the camp is located, is a place for public use. That use, the document says, is governed by the Provincial Capital Commission which decides the appropriate allocation and use of the space on the legislature grounds.
Anyone wishing to use the space must fill out a permit application, which was never submitted by the camp.
The court order also says Wascana Park is regulated by bylaws that prohibit erecting tents and other structures, burning fires and maintaining a camp.
When the camp was originally built on Feb. 28, the government told the campers they wouldn’t be allowed to stay. The camp remained until June 2, when the PCC issued a trespass notice to the protesters.
Dismantling the camp was delayed until June 17, when the document says protesters said they would take down all the structures on the site.
On June 18, police arrested six of the protesters and held them for several hours. They were released once the tipi was taken down and no charges were laid.
Protesters at the camp said police acted under political pressure from the government, the court order says.
The camp was rebuilt on June 21. Fifteen tipis and two canopy-enclosed structures are on the site.
The court document says the protesters have been peaceful throughout the time they have camped in front of the legislature.
It also says nine scheduled events had to be cancelled at the legislature grounds because of the camp, and others had to be relocated.
The court has ordered the campers must “vacate and cease occupying” the land immediately. It also says protesters cannot “establish or maintain a camp, or erect or maintain a tent or other shelter for use as lodging within Wascana Centre.”
The document says the protesters need to remove all personal property, tents, structures, tipis, shelters and other items from the site on the west lawn of the legislature grounds.
According to the document, peace officers are authorized to assist the PCC in removing the protesters from the lawn.
Chief Evan Bray said his first action will be to take the time to read the order and consult with stakeholders. Regina police will take time to communicate with all parties to help achieve a peaceful resolution.
In a statement, Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said the government is "pleased" with the court’s decision.
“We are fully supportive of peaceful protests, but the act of overnight camping, burning combustibles and erecting structures in the park cannot be done without the proper permits and approvals, as confirmed by today’s court order,” he said in the statement.
Cheveldayoff said the government is confident the protesters will comply with the court order to vacate the site. However, the decision gives the Wascana Centre and police full authority to remove the structures.
The protesters told reporters on Friday afternoon they plan to stay over the weekend. They will use the time to go over the court documents and plan to provide an update on Monday.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous released a statement on Friday afternoon saying they are outraged at the decision.
The full court ruling can be read here: