CBC with Michelle Stewart 03 July 2018
The Justice For Our Stolen Children camp at Wascana Park near the Saskatchewan legislature will remain standing, according to representatives.
Spokespeople talked to the media Tuesday after a recent meeting with ministers from the provincial government.
Justice Minister Don Morgan, Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman and Minister Responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission (which includes Wascana Park) Ken Cheveldayoff met with campers on Monday in Fort Qu’Appelle, at the Treaty 4 signing ground.
On Tuesday morning, campers outlined a number of “paradigm shifting” conditions they laid out for the government in the meeting, including a moratorium on adoptions and a review of permanent and long-term wards of social services in the province.
Several people from the camp were present at Monday’s meeting, including Prescott Demas, Robyn Pitawanakwat of Colonialism No More and Richelle Dubois, mother of Haven Dubois, who has been outspoken about concerns with the investigation into her 14-year-old son’s death. Debbie Baptiste, Colten Boushie’s mother, spoke about how she was treated by both law enforcement and the court system.
Pitawanakwat said the first meeting was successful. She said she is looking forward to changes being made by the province before their next meeting, which is scheduled to happen in two weeks.
One request she said she is hoping to see come to fruition soon is a moratorium on adoptions in the province.
“What we need is for Indigenous families to be raising their children. A lot of children are being adopted out for reasons of poverty. That needs to stop,” she said.
“The amount of adoptions that are happening and the reason why they’re happening are not OK.”
Michelle Stewart said many of their requests come from statistics on youth in custody of the justice system and social services.
“We’re not asking for modest reforms, we’re asking for paradigm shifting work,” she said. “This isn’t a modest reform to the child welfare acts, this isn’t a modest reform to police acts, this isn’t a modest reform to the Coroners Act.”
“These systems are fundamentally broken. They need to be built from the ground up in rich and robust consultation with Indigenous families and communities as well as the grassroots movements that have been pushing these agendas forward.”
The camp was set up in Regina 126 days ago, after the acquittals of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier in the deaths of Boushie and Tina Fontaine.
The camp began with one teepee. On June 18, police arrested some of the protesters and the camp was taken down. Protesters rebuilt the camp three days later on National Indigenous Peoples Day. It has since grown to 12 teepees.
Demas said the future of the camp would be evaluated depending on the results of the second meeting with the province. In the meantime, he said more teepees are welcome at the camp.
Campers said they asked the government not to remove the camp but that request did not get an official response.
Minister of Justice Don Morgan said the government has not made any commitments regarding future meetings or action based on the recommendations. He did not rule out a court injunction to dismantle the camp.
“A show of good faith on their part would be to remove the camp,” he said. “We expect the law to be complied with.”
“I’m not inclined to have a further meeting as long as the teepees are in place.”
Morgan said the government will be working with it’s First Nations partners, including all Tribal Councils and the FSIN, to address issues brought up by the camp.
The camp’s requests for the government include:
For Ministry of Social Services:
1) Release clear data on the number of children in care and the duration they have been in care to the public.
2) Review all permanent wards of social services.
3) Review all long-term wards of social services and update their files to see if they can return to their families.
4) Use in-home supervision in lieu of apprehension.
5) Go to Red Pheasant First Nation.
6) Place a moratorium on adoptions and the planned expansion of the foster care system.
7) Develop full report on each child in care that includes details on both their cultural and developmental needs.
8) Create a review practice for all foster homes in the province to avoid overcrowding and injuries.
9) Complete a cost analysis on how the ministry is resourcing families so they can stay together or be reunited, relative to costs that are paid to agencies that house children in care.
For the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General:
1) Conduct an inquiry into the death of Haven Dubois or a broader inquiry into practices by the major crimes unit at the Regina Police Service in 2015.
2) Pursue an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys.
3) Review the Police Act and the Coroners Act for revisions.
For the Ministries of Central Services and the Provincial Capital Commission:
1) Stop all efforts focused on removal of camp or a court order to do the same.
For all ministers:
1) Strike an inter ministerial round table and meet with campers in two weeks.