Respect Indigenous Peoples Who Don't Want to Celebrate Canada 150, Trudeau Urges

By Rabson, Mia | The Canadian Press, June 30, 2017 | Go to article overview

Respect Indigenous Peoples Who Don't Want to Celebrate Canada 150, Trudeau Urges


Rabson, Mia, The Canadian Press


Trudeau urges respect for 'unsettlers'

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OTTAWA - An indigenous demonstration teepee was moved onto Parliament Hill Thursday evening after a man was arrested for assaulting at least one of the activists.

The Bawaating Water Protectors from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., arrived Wednesday night on Parliament Hill with plans to erect a teepee and engage in four days of ceremonies they're calling a "reoccupation" to draw attention to the history of indigenous people in Canada during 150th birthday celebrations this weekend.

"We're here to make people aware of the genocide that went on, the assimilations that went on," said organizer Brendon Nahwegezhiche.

"That is a part of the history and that is the truth of Canada, unfortunately."

Originally the group clashed with police, who arrested nine people and told the group they couldn't set up the teepee.

However within a few hours all nine were released without charges and the teepee was set up on a slope near the eastern entrance to the Hill.

It wasn't where the group wanted it to be but was an initial compromise until it was moved to a location onto the Hill close to the main stage where Canada Day festivities will take place on Saturday.

The move came after RCMP arrested a man who caused a scene at the demonstration and allegedly knocked a cell phone out of the hands of one of the activists. He was to be charged with mischief, one government source said.

Following the incident, negotiations began to move the teepee up onto the main lawn near the West Block.

The Bawaating Water Protesters are just one of many indigenous groups planning protest events and demonstrations this weekend to draw attention to the fact that for them, there is nothing to celebrate.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at an event in Charlottetown, said their position is understandable and must be respected.

"We recognize that over the past decades, generations, indeed centuries Canada has failed Indigenous Peoples."

He said there has to be a compromise to ensure the safety and security of huge crowds on Canada Day on the Hill as well as respect for the demonstrations.

"That's what I expect of our security services and that's what I am expecting to see," he said.

Trudeau's office wouldn't say if he intervened to stop the possibility of a large confrontation ahead of the big event July 1. …

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