While a brand new office building remains locked and closed to the public, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is paying to rent another space in Regina.
The doors to the main office at 1827 Albert Street have been locked for more than a week as protesters camp outside to call attention to issues like mental health services and housing on reserves across Canada.
Through a media request, News Talk Radio has learned that the federal government department is paying $250 per day to rent a temporary office space to offer services at the George Gordon First Nation urban office in Regina. An emailed statement also explained that work continues inside the office on Albert Street, it is simply closed to the public in an effort to balance the right to a peaceful protest against the “need to ensure public and staff well-being”.
This week protesters at the Colonialism No More Solidarity Camp demanded that the main INAC office be re-opened to the public and that senior staff members come down to meet with them.
Officials with INAC will not agree to a news interview but sent the following response by email.
“We recognize the importance of the grassroots voices that are speaking up on the need for urgent progress on key issues in Indigenous communities. Our department remains willing to meet with those at our office in Regina, to understand the issues and listen to concerns.
We remain focused on the work that must be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to create healthy communities, based on recognition of rights, cooperation and respect.”
Media relations officials with INAC will not say how long the main office might remain closed, saying only that they are “assessing the situation on a daily basis”.