The Justice for our Stolen Children Camp protesters have been waiting since February to meet with the provincial government, and today it finally happened.
They met with five cabinet ministers in the Treaty Four Governance Centre in Fort Qu’Appelle. The meeting went on roughly between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Justice Minister Don Morgan, Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman, First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Minister Warren Kaeding, and Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gord Wyant were all in attendance.
Both sides agreed they would make no statements to media until Tuesday.
However, camp spokesperson Robyn Pitawanakwatt talked about their reasons for protesting at the camp’s powwow on Saturday.
“I think people assume we’re talking about residential schools,” she said, adding that historical issues are still important in why Indigenous peoples face the issues they do today.
“We’re actually talking about the children that are in care right now and the investigations that are happening right now … the apprehension rates in Saskatchewan of children into the foster care system is actually higher now than it ever was,” Pitawanakwatt said.
“That surprises a lot of people. I think people think things are getting better and are wondering why we’re still complaining.”
Protestor denied into meeting
Even though the meeting was closed, things were still intense outside when a man holding a photo showed up.
Chris Martell said he joined the camp on Thursday night and was denied access to speaking with government in the meeting.
Martell lost his son of almost two years old, Evander Lee Daniels, in 2010. The child drowned in the bathtub in an over-crowded foster home in Aberdeen.
Martell said he now struggles with PTSD and has attempted suicide multiple times. He said the government has never been clear with him on what happened with his son’s death, along with being denied for mental health therapy.
Chris Martell stands outside of the Treaty Four Governance Centre in Fort Qu’Appelle – where a meeting between protestors and gov’t is taking place. Martell’s 22-month-old son died in an overcrowded foster home in 2010, and he was denied to speak with gov’t. #Sask #skpoli pic.twitter.com/7VHFkMRdRm
— Jayda Noyes (@jaynoyesSK) July 2, 2018
“I want answers. I want to shoot for Evander law or Evander’s principal so this doesn’t happen again. That’s all I wanted and that’s all I wanted to ask them,” he said. “So now I’ll go back with my family and my kids back home, denied again. Eight years now.”
“I don’t know what to do — give up on life?” Martell asked as he ended his statement emotionally.
He then put up a protest sign outside the centre that read #JusticeforEvander and placed the photo of him on the ground in front of it.
Meeting details to come Tuesday
The Justice for our Stolen Children Camp posted an update on their Facebook page shortly after the meeting.
“We will be speaking to the media Tuesday morning to provide more information and answer questions. For now, we want to thank everyone who have continued to support and guide us. We recognize how each of you has been instrumental in bringing us to this point,” the camp wrote in a post.
The camp included they will be going live on Facebook Tuesday morning.