Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Raises Concerns Over the Early Morning Eviction of Every Child Matters Encampment
October 23, 2022
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is concerned over the unnecessary use of force to remove Elders and supporters from the Sacred Fire – Bring the Children Home encampment housed on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
Demonstrators established the east-side encampment in support of healing after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former Residential School Institution in Kamloops, BC. Organizers vowed to keep a sacred fire on the grounds to honour the children buried at former Residential School Institutions. They had committed to staying until all the undiscovered children’s bodies across Canada were found and returned home. Manitoba has since passed a new law in July 2022, which prohibits the deposit of specific amenities routinely donated to ceremony grounds and prohibits the ability to tend to ceremonial fires. Manitoba states they created the law in response to the Freedom Convoy established last winter but has only used it thus far to remove the peaceful encampment of First Nations protesters. Ironically, the Province claimed there was insufficient engagement or time to make September 30 a statutory holiday for Truth and Reconciliation Day. Yet, they created this law without any engagement and handed out evictions within a month. The AMC office has reached out and tried to engage with this government to find appropriate accommodations for these peaceful demonstrations, such as establishing a permanent site for a sacred fire at the legislature grounds. Unfortunately, Manitoba did not consult with AMC on this legislation.
“It is troubling to hear that the province had bulldozers on site, has handcuffed and arrested Elders, and given out $672 tickets in the early hours on Saturday. It is questionable timing to have done all this when most of us are still asleep and is concerningly aggressive,” said Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean. “Everyone has the right to demonstrate peacefully and to publicly express their frustration over the continued ignorance towards First Nations peoples in this province and across this country. This early morning raid on the camp sends a threatening message to all First Nations that Manitoba does not support our rights to criticize the government and to demonstrate our concerns peacefully. The Manitoba government’s still evicting First Nations people from our unceded territory and doing it while advertising their ‘reconciliation work.’ This kind of doublespeak is gravely concerning.”