Manitoba Chiefs denounce alleged ‘use of force’ during removal of legislature encampment

By News Staff

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is expressing concern over how the provincial government went about clearing an encampment on the legislative grounds Saturday morning.

The province moved to remove the “Every Child Matters” encampment on the east lawn in the early hours.

The Indigenous-led camp had been there for more than a year. It was set up after the discovery of “anomalies” on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

The AMC says it is “concerned over the unnecessary use of force to remove Elders and supporters from the Sacred Fire.”

“It is troubling to hear that the province had bulldozers on site, has handcuffed and arrested Elders, and given out $672 tickets in the early hours on Saturday. It is questionable timing to have done all this when most of us are still asleep and is concerningly aggressive,” said Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean in a statement.

RELATED: Machete, spear, body armour found at dismantled legislature camp, say police

“Everyone has the right to demonstrate peacefully and to publicly express their frustration over the continued ignorance towards First Nations peoples in this province and across this country. This early morning raid on the camp sends a threatening message to all First Nations that Manitoba does not support our rights to criticize the government and to demonstrate our concerns peacefully.

“The Manitoba government’s still evicting First Nations people from our unceded territory and doing it while advertising their ‘reconciliation work.’ This kind of doublespeak is gravely concerning.”

RELATED: Five more people charged following encampment removal

Organizers say they vowed to remain at the encampment “until all the undiscovered children’s bodies across Canada were found and returned.”

But the provincial government passed a law in the spring prohibiting encampments on the legislature grounds.

“Manitoba states they created the law in response to the Freedom Convoy established last winter but has only used it thus far to remove the peaceful encampment of First Nations protesters,” the AMC said in a statement.

Winnipeg police say they were not present during the operation.

“The Winnipeg Police Service did not have any officers present at the encampment on the Manitoba Legislative grounds today and were not involved in the removal of any occupants or items,” WPS said in a statement Saturday.

Protesters were removed from a different encampment on the legislative grounds earlier this month. The protest camp was subsequently dismantled.

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