People hold a teepee, intended to be erected on Parliament Hill as part of a four-day Canada Day protest during a demonstration in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.
Ottawa Sun by Lauren Malyk / June 29, 2017
After initially being met with resistance from police, dozens of indigenous protesters erected a large teepee overnight in front of Parliament Hill’s East Block.
The demonstration was part of what was described as a “reoccupation” ceremony to counter Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Between 50 and 60 protesters stood their ground, even after several were detained by RCMP. Police later said none of the protesters would be arrested.
Ottawa police Duty Insp. John Medeiros said the protest started at the Human Rights monument around 6 p.m. Wednesday. He said once the group got the teepee poles at the monument, they came to Parliament Hill to erect it.
After initially being prevented from erecting the teepee by police, it went up in the early hours of Thursday morning.
There was cheering when the teepee was fully up.
“These types of demonstrations need to take place,” said Isadore Day, an Ontario regional chief.
Candace Day Neveau, a spokeswoman for a group called the Bawating Water Protectors that arrived in Ottawa from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Wednesday, said 10 people were briefly held in custody before being released and ordered to stay away from Parliament Hill for six months.
Organizers said Indigenous Peoples have little reason to celebrate colonization as Canada marks its sesquicentennial.
Jessica Bolduc, who was with the Sault Ste. Marie group, said they wanted to build a teepee on what is unceded Algonquin territory.
Bolduc said it is also about recognizing there is much work to do before anyone can say Canada had achieved reconciliation.
“I think Canada has one sort of view and way in which they engage with the world around them and then there is the Indigenous experience,” said Bolduc.
“We talk about this smart and caring nation, but don’t acknowledge that those privileges aren’t afforded to indigenous peoples in the same way that they are to folks who have settled here, whether that was 200 years ago or to people who we are welcoming here today in a ceremony of becoming Canadian,” she said.
The demonstration was being held across from the former Langevin Block, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had renamed as the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council on June 21.
He said the change reflected what he called the “deep pain” felt by indigenous communities over having the building named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation and an architect of the residential school system.
Elsa Hoover, an indigenous activist who came from the United States to take part in the protest said the group planned to gather people together there to discuss how different human rights “are staged differently.”
Kyle Chiblow, another activist, said their intention was to pray and that was what they did.
Medeiros said people have the right to demonstrate.
“We get lots of demonstrations in the City of Ottawa over the course of a year,” he said.
“This group has a view and they’re passionate about it.”