Less than a day after it went up, the fence is coming down outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office in Regina.
The office itself is still closed, but a small group of protesters who are camping outside the building cheered as the fence was taken down Wednesday at 1:30 p.m..
“The spirits are up high. We’re thanking the workers for taking down the fence,” said Evening Star Andreas. “It feels like we maybe kinda had a little impact.”
The group is calling for change to address issues like mental health services and housing on reserves across Canada.
“I feel loud and proud about it. It’s about darn time that it came down,” said Tammy Delorme, who came from Cowessess First Nation to support the cause.
She pointed to the issue of housing on reserves, commenting that in many cases there are multiple families living in on house.
“The next step is hopefully INAC meets our – well I wouldn’t exactly say demands – but I hope they meet what we stand for right now.”
The first protest on Friday was held in solidarity with similar events at INAC offices in Toronto and Winnipeg in response to the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat. Organizers also pointed out that three First Nations communities in Saskatchewan also declared mental health emergencies back in March.
In an emailed statement on Monday, INAC media relations said five offices across Canada were closed to the public during the protests.
“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.”
Responding to a second request by email, the federal government department also said it had nothing to do with the fence being erected outside the office on Tuesday.
“Our understanding is that the decision and all arrangements made with respect to the erection of the fence were made by the building owner. Regional officials of the Saskatchewan Regional INAC office spoke to the building manager who has agreed to remove the fence.”
News Talk Radio has requested comment from the building owner about the decision to put up the fence, but the company has not responded at this time.
The office itself remains closed to the public. A new sign on the door now directs people to go to the George Gordon First Nation Urban Office in Regina for status cards, registration, estates and trust fund services and applications.