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Saskatchewan court allows teepee protest camp to stay on legislature lawn

REGINA — A Saskatchewan judge has ruled a Metis man can stay on the lawn of the provincial legislature to finish his hunger strike against high suicide rates.

The government took Tristen Durocher to court after the 24-year-old started camping in a teepee in Regina’s Wascana Park.

He arrived there at the end of July after walking more than 600 kilometres from northern Saskatchewan to raise awareness about suicides in the region.

Lawyers for the province argued Durocher is violating park bylaws that prohibit overnight camping and his presence poses a safety risk.

Durocher’s lawyer told a court last week that he is on a ceremonial fast that will end Sunday and it’s protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Graeme Mitchell dismissed the government’s application for a court order to remove Durocher, saying the bylaws and trespassing notice against him are unconstitutional.

“In my respectful view, Tristen’s ceremonial fast represents an admittedly small and personal attempt to encourage all of us to move a little further along in our national journey,” he wrote in his decision released Friday.

The judge also acknowledged the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on reconciliation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020

The Canadian Press

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