REGINA – The Saskatchewan government wants a court to order protesters who are camping outside the legislature to leave.
It also wants a judge to force Regina police to remove them if need be.
The Justice of Our Stolen Children camp has been set up in the park since late February. Campers in 15 teepees are protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.
“The (protesters) are currently in possession of and are occupying a portion of the land without the permission, consent or authorization of Saskatchewan or the (Provincial Capital) Commission,” says a court application filed on Tuesday.
“Saskatchewan owns the land which the (protesters) are occupying. (They) have no right to exclusive possession of public land.”
Bylaws prohibit overnight camping and burning combustibles in the park. Ken Cheveldayoff, minister responsible for the commission which maintains the park, said the government wants those bylaws enforced.
“If the court order is granted, we would expect the Regina Police Service to assist in its enforcement,” Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
The court application is to be heard on July 31 in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench. Regina police declined to comment.
Officers moved in to break up the camp on June 18, but it was set up again a few days later. Police Chief Evan Bray has said since that he doesn’t believe the camp poses a risk to the public.
Prescott Demas, who has been protesting at the camp since February, said the government is trying to take the focus off the issues which prompted the protest.
“Those issues are affecting Aboriginals in communities across Canada,” Demas said Thursday. “Why not focus on that? Why focus on a simple little bylaw?”
Campers met with the government on July 2 and have requested another meeting to further address their concerns.
Protesters filed a court challenge earlier this week in the hope of having six arrests made during the June eviction declared illegal. That application is due to be heard in Regina court on Aug. 23.
Demas said that he was relieved when he heard about the government’s court application, since the campers knew it was coming.
“I’m more surprised that we’re actually still here, right?” he said. “I mean, it takes this long just to try and get another meeting with the government.”
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Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ken Cheveldayoff’s first name was Kevin.