Early Thursday morning, Indigenous activists and their supporters built a large teepee just outside Ottawa’s parliamentary grounds — a visual reminder of issues they say are still unresolved.
The teepee marks day one of a “reoccupation” ceremony, according to organizers — there are more demonstrations to come. The ceremony is intended to draw attention to the plight of Indigenous people ahead of Canada’s much-touted 150th anniversary this summer.
The demonstrators originally planned to erect the teepee on Parliament Hill but were blocked by police. Nine demonstrators were arrested and detained on Wednesday night but were released later on.
“We’re not leaving, we’re not leaving, I’m making that very clear,” one demonstrator tells a police officer after the arrests in a video below, “And you know what, I want my people to be released. You took into custody nine of our people, you are to release them now. You’re not going to criminalize them, you’re not going to demonize them. I’m not putting up with terrorism on my own home land.”
Confrontation between police and protesters on Parliament Hill pic.twitter.com/X4PsZfW4Ok— Mercedes Stephenson (@CTVMercedes) June 29, 2017
Police set up metal barriers to restrict access to Parliament Hill, so the protestors set up the teepee at the entrance just outside of the grounds, according to Elyse Skura from CBC.
Demonstrator tells me she is content the ceremony was able to continue but people are not happy the teepee isn't on Parliament Hill grounds. pic.twitter.com/jpOYBpt34d— Elyse Skura (@eskura) June 29, 2017
The teepee demonstration was planned with the Bawaating Water Protectors and Idle No More , a movement that calls on people to join in a peaceful revolution. There is a series of events planned from June 28 to July 2 to show resistance to Canada 150.
“This four-day Public Ceremony aims to simultaneously unsettle the 150th anniversary while asserting place-based relationship on our lands that were never ceded, and to educate the general public on the atrocities that the occupying government continues to inflict on our Nations and our Mother,” the Bawaating Water Protectors said in a statement.
Parliament Hill attracts large crowds for Canada Day every year, and this year will likely be no exception. Across the country, events and celebrations have been taking place year-round for Canada 150.
The next event planned by Idle No More is called ‘UNsettling 150: A Call to Action.’ It is set to take place on July 1 in Vancouver and there are 156 RSVPs so far.