A Regina woman has launched a petition to call on the province to designate the west lawn of the legislature grounds as a space for Indigenous peoples.
Maureen Huot, who started the petition on Sunday, said the designation would be a step in reconciliation, allowing real dialogue to happen between government and Indigenous peoples.
“The more we talk of reconciliation, the more we have to actually do it,” Huot said. “We need our government to be a leader and address the concerns of the citizens.”
The petition comes during the last few days of the Walking with our Angels ceremony on the legislature grounds in Wascana Park.
Tristen Durocher, who spearheaded the movement, set up a tipi on the grounds earlier this summer to bring awareness to the mental health and suicide crisis in Saskatchewan, particularly up north.
Despite Durocher’s efforts to call on the government for more supports, he has been ticketed for bylaw infractions and the province has gone to court to see the site removed.
Huot said the government’s actions are only further clogging the overloaded court system.
She said if the west lawn was designated as a space, it would allow for meaningful dialogue.
“I’m tired of our government not being able to simply acknowledge the problem that my Indigenous neighbours and fellow citizens are facing,” she said.
“I consider myself an ally, and we are all Treaty people. We need to deal with the root problems of these issues.”
She said conversations need to be had about adequate mental health funding to ensure people’s needs are met.
Provincial officials have previously met with Durocher, and have said the government has increased mental health funding.
However, Durocher has said the efforts don’t go far enough. He is expected to leave the site on Sept. 13, which is when his ceremonial fast ends.
His fast will last 44 days, highlighting the fact that 44 Sask. Party MLAs defeated an NDP bill that called for a provincial suicide strategy.
In a Facebook message, Durocher said the site is a ceremonial space regardless of the petition.
"We have had ceremonies here, other Indigenous people have had ceremonies here, so whether or not it’s declared a ceremonial space is irrelevant because it is,” he said.
Huot said the designation doesn’t have to cost money, and that the site can look how it does on any given day.
“We need to make it so that if someone does walk 600 kilometres to the legislature because they are passionate, heart-broken, and want to see some answers, that they have that space to do so,” she said.
Walking with our Angels isn’t the first group that has set up a ceremonial site.
Nearly two years ago, Justice for our Stolen Children set up a site. They called on the government to address racial injustice in the province following the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.