Regina: Protestors gather at federal office in solidarity with other protests taking place around Canada
Posted by Zig Zag
by Kerry Benjoe, Regina Leader-Post, April 15, 2016
The doors may have been locked, but that did not stop a noon-hour protest on one of Regina’s busiest streets from taking place.
On Friday, protestors carrying signs some of which read: Colonialism Kills, Indigenous Lives Matter and INAC = Canadian Apartheid gathered outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office on Albert Street. It was held in solidarity with similar protests happening across the country.
Protests began in Toronto, James Bay and Winnipeg in response to the state of emergencies called by First Nations communities dealing with high rates of suicides and suicide attempts.
On Sunday, Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario called a state of emergency after the 11th suicide attempt in one day in April and in March there were 28 attempts. Last month, Saulteaux Pelly Chiefs Health Alliance declared a state of crisis due to the number of deaths in those communities related to drugs, alcohol, suicide and chronic health issues.
As the group of protestors chanted for change, held up their protest signs, waved flags and passing motorists honked their horns in support, a sign posted on the front door of the INAC office stated the office was closed for the day.
Organizer, Robin Pitawanakwat said she informed INAC about the protest on Thursday and was somewhat surprised by the closure being there were no plans for protesters to enter the building.
INAC confirmed it closed for the day because of the planned protest.
Sue Deranger, a long-time advocate, was one of the speakers for the event and she took the closure as a symbolic gesture, which did not surprise her at all.
“My take is, ‘We have never listened, never will listened and we will never listen. We don’t care and we are shut to you,’ ” she said referring to INAC.
This year, marks the 140th anniversary of the Indian Act and it’s been long enough, said Deranger.
“It has tried to tell us how to live, who we are, from birth to death and beyond,” she said. “The colonialism from the Indian Act has created poverty, it has created despair, it has created suicide.”
She said the Indian Act has done nothing for indigenous people except create inequality and should to be abolished.
“It’s time for indigenous and non-indigenous people to say, ‘No more!’ There will be justice, there will be equality and there will be a recognition that the first peoples of this land are indeed the first peoples,” said Deranger.
Chasity Delorme, president of the Canadian Federation of Student’s aboriginal caucus, said the students support a call for action. She said there is student involvement in Winnipeg, Toronto and James Bay because this is a serious matter that needs to be addressed.
She said for INAC to close its Regina office was ridiculous.
“What are they afraid of?” said Delorme. “Grassroots people are humanitarians because we support human issues not because we are here to be aggressive or cause harm to anybody.”
She said the bottom line is INAC is a service provider and it should not close its doors because there are 50 to 60 people standing outside the building.