Protesters are now camping on the sidewalk of Albert Street after being pushed back by a temporary fence surrounding the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) office in Regina.
Several supporters joined the group on Tuesday after the fence went up. They are calling for change to address the suicide and mental health crisis on many reserves across Canada.
Some say the fence is almost a perfect symbol of the reason they are frustrated with the federal department and how it handles issues.
“This displays and shows exactly why we’re here. We want dialogue, we want change, we want real solutions, and this is the answer, a fence,” said Sue Deranger, who joined the protest on Friday and on Monday. “This shows you historically how they deal with us.”
According to Deranger, a property manager called the police on Tuesday morning asking for the group to be removed from the property. She said police only said they only had to move off the property line.
She said the group willingly removed all the signs and banners from the building and moved their tents and tables twice, but by the middle of the afternoon a fence was set up around the perimeter of the building.
“Looking at this fence it looks like apartheid,” Deranger said. “It also means that INAC is not there to serve the people they need to serve, and if this is truth and reconciliation, that’s pretty bad.”
She said the group is gaining support and have heard more positive comments than stereotypical racist comments.
Evening Star Andreas was another protester camped outside the INAC office.
“We’re trying to get people to unite, and this fence is a symbol of keeping us separated,” she said.
She said she prepared to stay camped there “for the long haul”, noting that she is taking a stand as a Cree warrior woman.
“We’re trying to fight for our future, for the children, for their water, for their education, for their health,” Andreas said.
The office doors have been locked since Friday morning. The location in Regina is one of five INAC offices across Canada that have been closed to the public during the protests. In an emailed statement on Monday, INAC said services are still available by phone and email.
“We recognize the public’s right to engage in peaceful protests and lawful assembly and are balancing that against the need to ensure public and staff well-being.”
News Talk Radio is waiting for a response to another request on Tuesday, asking if the federal government department had any knowledge of the fence going up around the building.