Walking with our Angels won't leave until government provides meaningful action on suicide
REGINA -- Organizers behind Walking with our Angels say they won’t back down after officers requested they remove their tipi from the Saskatchewan legislature grounds.
Tristen Durocher, the organizer behind the initiative, said on Sunday the group won’t leave until they see meaningful action on suicide prevention in the province.
“I didn’t walk 635 kilometres to be intimidated by a piece of paper and by old, white dusty men in uniform, because we lose children in the north as young as eight years old, because of hopelessness,” Durocher said.
Walking with our Angels set up the tipi to raise awareness about suicide and ask for more resources for suicide prevention.
They walked from La Ronge and have been protesting the government’s refusal to pass a suicide prevention bill.
Despite their efforts, the government wants the group to vacate.
Government spokesperson Jay Teneycke said in an email that Provincial Capital Commission officials requested the camp be removed.
He said bylaws prohibit overnight camping and don't allow the erection of permanent or semi-permanent structures on the legislature grounds.
The bylaw also states that gatherings, including protests, must receive appropriate permits in advance, and can only operate between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
“This system helps create a safe and healthy environment, and is intended to create a balance within the park, meeting the needs of both individual patrons, protesters, and large groups,” Teneycke said.
He said the bylaws were told to the organizers on multiple occasions throughout their walk and when they arrived on site.
Officials want the group to work within the rules and guidelines, he added.
However, Durocher wants further action from the government.
“Suicide is a serious public health risk. We have the highest rates in Canada,” Durocher said.
The Sask. Party government recently voted down an NDP bill that looked to address suicide, a move Durocher said is criminally negligent.
“I use that word, criminally negligent, because they really do have a fiduciary responsibility, legally binding responsibility to provide mental health services for the residents of Saskatchewan,” Durocher said.