'It's disheartening:' Teepees start to come down at Saskatchewan legislature

REGINA — Teepees came down at an Indigenous protest camp on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature on Monday, and protesters say more will be brought down on Tuesday.

The Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism said in an email late Monday that teepees would be coming down throughout the day Tuesday, and there would be a round dance for supporters and campers at sunset.

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On Friday, a judge ordered that the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp be dismantled after the government applied for a court-ordered eviction.

The campers have been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care since late February.

There had been 15 teepees in the camp at one point, but that number was down to 10 by Monday morning. At least two of the teepees came down after the court order, while others were taken down for the annual Treaty 4 Gathering taking place in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., this week.

Regina police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said in an email earlier Monday that the department had been in talks with the province and protesters, and Chief Evan Bray "expects a resolution in the near future."

No deadline was specified in Justice Ysanne Wilkinson's order to take the camp down.

Protester Richelle Dubois said Monday it was "disheartening" to see the number of teepees shrink.

"It shows the province's true colours and how they feel about First Nation children and communities," she said.

Robyn Pitawanakwat, a spokeswoman for the camp, said earlier in the day that protesters were still undecided about where to go from here, and they held several meetings over the weekend to discuss their options.

"We're hopeful — hopeful that there's still a future for our cause and there's still a future for our children," Dubois said.

Lawyer Dan LeBlanc, who represents the protesters, wasn't immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for the provincial government declined to comment further on the future of the camp.

Pitawanakwat said spirits have been good at the camp and people have been united since the court order. She said the focus should be on the issues they've brought forward, rather than bylaws and permissions.

— Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter

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