Nothing has been taken down at the Walking With Our Angels camp across from the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina since officials ordered members of the camp to take it down over the weekend.
Organizers Tristen Durocher and Chris Merasty, who embarked on a 635-kilometre walk from La Ronge to Regina in July to raise awareness about suicide prevention in the province, have had their set up in place since their arrival to the Queen City on Friday. Durocher is wanting the government to pass a suicide prevention bill after Sask. Party members voted down a bill from NDP MLA Doyle Vermette in June to create a provincial plan that recognized suicide as both a mental health issue and a public health issue.
Durocher said he and his team have been approached multiple times to tear down the camp. He recounted when members from the Provincial Capital Commission and Regina Police Service gave him a court summons and requested that their structures be removed.
Durocher made it clear to officials that it is a ceremonial space, adding that it’s “completely illegitimate for a Wascana bylaw to think it has the right and arrogance to remove [the tipi] from its lawn.”
He mentioned that Regina police have told him he has their support, but they noted that if they receive an order of eviction and removal from the Queen’s Bench, then they have no choice but to obey. Durocher said he doubts the police and other officials will want to take down their camp, but they will have to because he is not going anywhere.
“I will not help with the tear down and my team will not help with the tear down. They will take everything down themselves, it will be meticulously recorded and it will be given to the media,” he stated. “It will not end until the government is willing to pass legislation that I am convinced can save lives.”
It has been five days since Durocher began his hunger strike. All he has to sustain himself is tea, medicines, meditation and prayer.
Durocher is committed to seeing through his goal, but admitted it has been a frustrating process so far.
“I walked all the way down here and our “leader” – the premier – didn’t even have the courage to greet me on the front steps of his legislative assembly,” he added.
“I’m here for as long as it takes and I mean that. They take this tipi down, I’ll sit on the bare lawn. That doesn’t mean I’ll go home.”