Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Supports the Right to Protest on Legislative Grounds and Calls for Delay of Eviction
August 23, 2022
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba –The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) supports the right to peaceful protest on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature and calls on Premier Stefanson to delay the eviction of the Sacred Fire – Bring the Children Home encampment.
On August 17th, 2022, the occupants of two encampments on the legislative grounds were served eviction notices and told to vacate the premises by August 23rd, 2022. The east side encampment was established in support of healing after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former Residential School Institution in Kamloops, BC. Organizers vow to keep a sacred fire on the grounds to honour the children buried at former Residential School Institutions and say they will remain there until all the bodies of children across Canada are found and returned home. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report estimates there are approximately 3200 unmarked graves, and communities are working to find the remaining sites.
“The province serving eviction notices to protesters and forcing them to dismantle the sacred fire without consultation is patronizing and oppressive,” said Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean. “All Canadians have a right to peaceful protest and ceremony, and First Nations have that right too. The eviction of any peaceful camp does not support reconciliation between the province and First Nations.”
Manitoba’s newest law, created in response to the Freedom Convoy established last winter, prohibits the deposit of specific amenities routinely donated to ceremony grounds and sacred fires, and prohibits the ability to tend to ceremonial fires. The encampment does not interfere with access to the legislature, and these laws have targeted First Nations’ ability to protest or hold ceremonies on their territory. AMC leadership and the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba Wab Kinew, call on Premier Stefanson to delay the eviction so the leadership of AMC can contact and meet with the participants of the encampment.
“Manitoba never enforced this law on the Freedom Convoy, yet they are now using it to evict First Nations people from our unceded territory,” said Deputy Grand Chief McLean. “Our people have gathered at sacred fires on our territories and traditional lands since time immemorial. Our ceremonies are healing, and we have the right to them, even in protest, especially if peaceful.”