Police arrested and detained nine people late Wednesday night when they tried to build a teepee on Parliament Hill in opposition of Canada’s 150th birthday party this weekend.
Police eventually released the detainees, and the Bawaating Water Protectors, a group from Sault Ste. Marie, erected the teepee just after 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
The construction of the teepee was the first of a series of acts planned by Idle No More this weekend to resist Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Indigenous leaders took to Twitter in the early hours of Thursday morning to say this underlines why so many reject Canada 150.
The confrontation began when the group carried teepee poles onto Parliament Hill and police stopped them, physically grasping the teepee poles to stop the group from moving forward.
Police arrested nine people and detained them in handcuffs. As police made arrests there were shouts of, “Stolen Algonquin land!” and “Shame, shame!”
“We’re not leaving, we’re not leaving, I’m making that very clear,” a woman standing under the teepee poles told a police officer. “And you know what, I want my people to be released. You took into custody nine of our people, you are to release them now. You’re not going to criminalize them, you’re not going to demonize them. I’m not putting up with terrorism on my own home land.”
Eventually, the group erected the teepee by the east entrance of the Hill, but not on Hill grounds because metal barricades erected by police stopped them.
In a statement, the Bawaating Water Protectors said they planned to fast for four days from June 28th to July 2nd in Ottawa alongside public panels and performance workshops to educate the public.
“This four-day Public Ceremony aims to simultaneously unsettle the 150th anniversary while asserting place-based relationship on our lands that were never ceded, and to educate the general public on the atrocities that the occupying government continues to inflict on our Nations and our Mother.”
In a lawsuit filed in December last year, the Algonquin Anishinaabe First Nation say they haven’t ceded the Parliament Hill land, and they want the federal and Ontario governments to recognize that those lands belong to their Nation.