The government of Saskatchewan’s Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), which oversees the management of Wascana Centre, has asked the “Walking With Our Angels” protest camp to leave the park.
Tristen Durocher, who organized the camp, walked from La Ronge to Regina to raise awareness around Saskatchewan’s high suicide rates.
On Friday, he began a hunger strike in a newly erected tipi on the lawns of the Saskatchewan legislature.
Since then he’s been asked numerous times to leave, the most recent time occurring Sunday at 5:30 a.m.
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“I was woken up by several men in uniform from the Provincial Capital Commission and the police service,” Durocher said.
“First time they came was on Saturday, and it was to hand me a court summons, set for November. And it took them six people in uniform to hand me one piece of paper.”
A spokesperson for the PCC confirmed that officials were on-site on Sunday to “verbally request that the structures related to the Walking With Our Angels protest camp be removed.”
Officials say the camp is in violation of bylaws and a 2018 court injunction that had previously ordered the removal of the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp.
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The injunction states overnight camping, as well as the erection of permanent and semi-permanent structures like tents, tipis and booths, are prohibited.
“They consider a tipi to be a permanent structure that’s against the rules,” Durocher said. “Our demonstration is beyond the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., but that’s against the rules.”
Durocher is calling on the government of Saskatchewan to implement a suicide-prevention bill that will take aim at northern Saskatchewan’s suicide crisis. In mid-June, the Sask. NDP attempted to pass Bill 618, a private member’s bill, to recognize suicide as a health and safety priority.
After failing to get support from Sask. Party MLAs, the bill was voted down by a count of 43-13 on June 19.
“What I saw here today, was not to enforce the bylaws, not to take down the tipi, but to intimidate us to leave on our own free will,” Durocher said.
“I will not leave this lawn on my own free will. I won’t walk off, I’ll be dragged off.”
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Durocher said officers were knocking on his tipi for over an hour on Sunday asking them to leave.
“We won’t be taking this tipi down,” Durocher said. “They will have to do it in their uniforms with the scrutiny of the public gaze.”
Since the tipi was erected on Friday, the camp has remained peaceful and has not attracted any counter-demonstrations or hatred.
“The only people we’re endangering is ourselves,” Durocher said, who is on day three of his hunger strike. “So have some damn respect, let us stay on this lawn.”
– With files from Connor O’Donovan
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