Protesters at Regina’s INAC office say they won’t leave until their demands are met
Posted by Zig Zag
People are camped out in front of Regina’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office
By Madeline Kotzer, CBC News, April 25, 2016
Seven days after first pitching their tents, people remain camped out in front of Regina’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office.
Signs, fastened to the sides of tents along Albert Street, read “standing strong together” and “honk support change for First Nations”.
Some cars honk as they drive by.
“We’re here because we’re tired of the Indian Act interfering,” said Miranda Hanus.
Hanus said one of the group’s demands is that Regina’s INAC office “unlock their doors, reopen their space and services to the public and meet the needs of the people they serve.”
Last week, the office was closed and a fence was set up around it.
Today, the group put a press release on its Facebook page stating that on the eve of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Saskatchewan, it “demands more than leftover sandwiches.”
In addition to the reopening of the city’s downtown INAC office, the group is requesting a meeting with senior staff.
“If a group of people were camped out on my front lawn for a week, I would go outside and talk to them,” said Night Kinistino, a protest participant quoted in the statement.
Hanus explained that the group does not plan to leave the site until these two demands are met.
“They locked the doors as soon as we showed up,” said Hanus.
“We need to dismantle the Indian Act. We want to have our own affairs. We want to be able to negotiate better. The Indian Act just spreads more colonialism. Brings in middle managers with chief and council.”
Hanus referred to the Prime Minister’s planned visit to Fort Qu’Appelle on Tuesday as a “fly over,” noting that he is more than welcome to visit the protest’s camp in Regina.
Similar protests were held at INAC offices throughout Canada. Some have since dissolved following meetings between protesters and government officials.
Initially, many gathered to object to conditions that exist on some Canadian reserves following a suicide crisis in Attawapiskat.
However, the complexity of the demands made at the protests are not lost on those asking for change.
CBC Saskatchewan reached out to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for comment. However, no one from the federal ministry has responded.
Last week, INAC issued a news release stating offices are staffed but operating in a limited capacity “due to exceptional circumstances.”
People are sharing news about the protests on social media, using the #OccupyINAC hashtag.