Dear Mx. Ross:
I was disappointed to hear that PCC doesn’t see value in having peaceful protesters in the Park on Canada Day, a day where we celebrate Canadian values protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of Assembly is one of those rights, and a bylaw or even a provincial law does not overrule the fundamental right First Nations people and their allies have to peacefully petition the government in front of the provincial government building.
Police time can be better spent on our national holiday with assisting people in the crowd as they did for me 4 years ago, saving my life. If they’d instead been hauling off people to jail for the non-illegal act of pushing the government to meet reasonable demands for improvements to our justice system, I would not be here to point this out to you. I consider the overnight camping bylaw to be intended to prevent people from camping for fun, or necessity due to lack of social housing, not as an autocratic excuse for police to defend the government from citizen protest movements.
You could have moved the event to where the teepee was set up in front of the Legislature last year, and saved the time of an inappropriate press release to pressure Regina Police into doing the wrong thing.
Thank-you for your consideration.
A camp, Justice For our Stolen Children, was set up 111 days ago in Wascana Park in Regina outside the Legislature to pressure the government to fix systemic problems in the justice system which have led to widely publicized cases of injustice regarding indigenous victims of violence. Today Regina Police arrested peaceful protesters who refused to leave the park, and the government refused to meet with the protesters aside from telling them to leave so the grass wouldn’t die.
“Telling them to leave so the grass won’t die. That’s horrible.”
It is, especially since on the other side of the park, they’re cutting down old-growth trees to make way for development for a bank.
Watch the video.
Regina, Saskatchewan doesn’t have enough place names honouring First Nations people and culture. Wascana Parkway and Assiniboine Drive just don’t cut it. Where’s Sitting Bull Circle, or Sha-có-pay Street?
“Regina has had this really long-standing colonial messaging in terms of our street names and place names — just looking at Dewdney and Victoria,” said Shauneen Pete, executive lead of indigenization at the University of Regina. “The list goes on and on and on so it really maintains the unquestionable place of colonial narrative.”
She explained that Edgar Dewdney was superintendent general of Indian affairs until 1892 and played a significant role in creating a system of oppression designed to eradicate First Nations people by establishing reserves, the pass system, residential schools and ration distribution.
“That story, when understood, takes on a very different meaning and we can begin to question, ‘Why do we honour this person?’ ” said Pete.
University of Regina has already renamed several buildings to honour Indigenous cultures. It makes sense to, given that we are surrounded by Wascana Parkway on the west and south, and Wascana Lake on the north and east. Wascana is a reference to an Indigenous word meaning “pile of bones” (as anyone from Regina could probably tell you).
I suggest Balfour Collegiate rename their sports teams the Millionaires.
My school’s team name was the Trojans. If it ever had become slang for a racist insult toward Canada’s First Peoples, I’d support changing it. Instead it’s just slang for condoms and computer viruses, so no problem there.