Camps at Manitoba legislature handed eviction notices
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/08/2022 (285 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two independent groups of people who have camped on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature for months have been told to clear out.
On Wednesday morning, eviction notices were hand delivered by Manitoba Justice officials to members of a 14-month occupation of the east lawn and to another encampment on the north lawn, which formed in June.
“Protests and rallies are acceptable on the grounds of the legislative building,” a spokesperson for Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said in a statement to the Free Press. “But for safety and security reasons – for staff, visitors, tourists and even other protesters – encampments are not permitted.”
The notices say members have until noon on Aug. 23 to remove the unauthorized structures, objects and vehicles, under authority of the Legislative Security Act and the Prohibited Activities Regulation. Winnipeg police were also on hand to support provincial staff.
However, a member of the Sacred Fire Camp, who requested that his name not be published, said the group wouldn’t comply with the eviction order.
The camp was established in June 2021 following the discovery of potentially hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools across the country. Members have vowed to tend a sacred fire burning within a teepee on the east lawn until all children buried at residential schools are found.
The camp member said he is prepared to face fines or arrest to maintain the sacred fire.
“We are their voice,” he said.
The group is also readying for a repeat of past government attempts to clear the camp. In March, crews began to tear down the sacred fire camp and dismantled another set up across Broadway in Memorial Park, which was part of the so-called freedom convoy occupation, after the province issued eviction notices.
Another group of protesters — some of whom were associated with the weeks-long demonstration against public health measures in February — raised a teepee on the north lawn of the legislature in mid-June. The teepee is described as a law lodge by participants, who say they are demonstrating sovereignty over the land through ceremony.
The demonstration is being led in part by Si Pih Ko, also known as Trina Francois, who made headlines after delivering an emotional rendition of the Cree song Our village to Pope Francis, who was in Maskwacis, Alta., in late July to deliver an apology on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for its involvement in the residential school system.
Earlier this year, the provincial government passed the Legislative Security Amendment Act to give law enforcement officials “necessary tools to deal” with encampments, Goertzen’s office said. Regulations prohibiting select activities within the legislative precinct came into force on July 7.
The regulations state that persons must not erect or occupy a tent or another shelter on the grounds, maintain a fire in the precinct, or place generators, portable toilets, firewood or trailers on the grounds. Fines of up to $5,000 can be issued under the new law.
“Those regulations bring Manitoba in line with other jurisdictions across Canada, regardless of political stripe,” the spokesperson said.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.