Regina solidarity camp reaches one month anniversary
Posted by Zig Zag
by Nickita Longman, Eagle Feather News, May 18, 2016
The Colonialism No More Solidarity Camp officially began its occupation outside of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) offices in downtown Regina on Monday, April 18th.
The Camp, initially formed in solidarity with the Attawapiskat youth and the community’s declaration of a suicide crisis, operates solely on a volunteer basis for all day-to-day requirements. The Camp pushes for 3-4 occupiers to spend the night and calls on the community to bring meals and other essentials.
Although contributions are largely made by individuals from the community, certain unions and organizations have stepped up and offered the camp bigger items, like a canvas tent (CUPE), a generator (UNIFOR) for power, support for an onsite barbeque (Regina & District Labour Council and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild), and grocery funds (SGEU).
The Canadian Mental Health Association has offered vital services such as washroom and dishwashing facilities.
Aside from living essentials and logistics, the biggest call for action is directed to the regional Saskatchewan office of INAC.
Organized strictly as a consensus group, there isn’t a decision or motion brought forward unless it receives approval from the members of the group, and in particular, with advice and consultation from the onsite Camp Elder, Bob Smoker. This same process was used when the camp created a list of demands that have been released, usually two at a time, as the group has met with INAC administration on a weekly basis.
The immediate demands range from a request to re-open the doors to the public after a 9 day office closure, as well as making environmental states of reserves (including drinkable water, health, education, and housing infrastructures) available to the public. The latter has yet to be provided. For the long-term demands, the group has requested that treaties are upheld to both on and off reserve Indigenous peoples, as well as revoking the Indian Act. Until then, the group has been pushing for an overall message for INAC: No more band-aid solutions.
The meetings have been a crucial part of the camp’s movement. This is the first time INAC has met with grassroots individuals, and to the surprise of long-time activist Su Deranger, the administration “didn’t ask us when we were leaving.” Deranger has pushed for INAC to “think outside of the budget” as well as “recognizing the prairies as a location for concern.”
“Although the camp was initially set-up in hopes to amplify the voices across the country,” Robyn Pitawanakwat, a founding member of the group, stated, “the hope has also been that the camp in Regina, our own little tent city, could reflect the lack of adequate housing on First Nations in Canada.”
Another initial hope for Pitawanakwat was making sure that the group steered away from having a specific leader. “I want us to be seen as a strong flock where members take turns leading and following.” In a recent interview with Briarpatch magazine Pitawanakwat reported that the meetings have given a new voice to many new leaders at the table with INAC.
Over the past month, the group has encountered various outside contributing forces ranging from the building manager setting up a fence in attempts to confine the group’s occupation (which was taken down in less than 24 hours due to pressure from the public), to below zero temperatures, to uninformed opinions shouted from vehicles. This hasn’t slowed the dynamics of the camp whatsoever. The group has remained welcoming and inclusionary offering up conversation or resources in hopes to educate the public on the state of First Nations people in the prairies. On any given day, the public is warmly welcomed and encouraged to stop by for a game of cards, a cup of hot coffee, and enlightening conversation.
To find out ways in which you can contribute, connect, and follow the group, like them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Colonialism-No-More-Solidarity-Camp-Regina-990237494365414/?fref=ts), follow them on Twitter (@NDNActNoMore) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on May 19, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged #OccupyInac, Attawapiskat, Colonialism No More, INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Native suicides, Regina. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.