As the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp continues to dig in at Wascana Park in Regina, a lone teepee now stands in Saskatoon’s Victoria Park.
The Healing Camp for Justice was erected Tuesday evening. A group, led by Chris Martell, stayed in the teepee overnight through intense rain and wind.
Martell is the father of Evander Lee Daniels, a 22-month-old boy who died after drowning in scalding hot water while in foster care in 2010.
The toddler was staying in an overcrowded foster home at the time.
Martell said he made the decision to set up a camp in Saskatoon after visiting the protest in Regina last week.
“I saw what was going on … and I felt the need for a place of healing,” he told 650 CKOM.
While the camp has started with a lone teepee in the middle of the Riversdale park’s lawn, Martell said there are indications more will join them in the coming days.
He added he hopes it can be a safe space for all who have suffered tragedy over the years.
“My goal here is for a place for everyone to come and heal, share our pain,” he said.
“A lot of us are dealing with trauma and mental health problems.”
Martell is also calling for changes to the foster care system in Saskatchewan.
He said he wants foster homes to be licensed and regularly inspected by provincial officials.
To that end, he said he’s requested a meeting with both the provincial government and Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark.
“There are a lot of injustices in the foster care system … and it’s not getting any better,” Martell said.
“We need to come together.”
Giles Dorval, the Director of Aboriginal Relations for the City of Saskatoon, said in a statement he has been in contact with Martell.
“Mr. Martell reached out to the city about his peaceful protest and we are now working with him to ensure all the appropriate protocols are in place,” Dorval wrote Wednesday.
Saskatoon police noted they’re aware of the camp, and have been communicating with Martell.
We had some members of our Cultural Unit go out and meet Mr. Martell,” they wrote Wednesday.
“Beyond that it is not a situation that requires police involvement at this time.”
The Healing Camp for Justice is being supported by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
Chief Bobby Cameron told 650 CKOM it will be a meeting place for people to heal from the injustices they’ve suffered in the correctional and child welfare systems in the province.
“This is a peaceful gathering, not a protest,” he said.
“It’s a place for our First Nations people to come and share their stories.”
He added the camp in Saskatoon has the “same concept” as the Wascana Park demonstration in Regina.