Pre­mier un­sure if vis­it­ing protest would have helped

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Pre­mier Scott Moe says he’s never met with any­one protest­ing out­side the leg­is­la­ture, and didn’t see a need to make an ex­cep­tion when Indige­nous pro­test­ers set up a camp in the late win­ter of 2018.Moe said cab­i­net mem­bers were more than ca­pa­ble of work­ing through some of the pro­test­ers’ con­cerns.“I don’t know if it would have re­solved it in a quicker fash­ion or not.“The fact of the mat­ter is ... those in­di­vid­u­als were en­gaged with on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions with mul­ti­ple mem­bers of the cab­i­net,” he said in a year-end in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press.“I haven’t, in fair­ness, re­ally con­versed with any­one di­rectly that is run­ning a protest or a camp in front of the leg­is­la­ture.”The Jus­tice for Our Stolen Chil­dren camp sprung up in late Fe­bru­ary — shortly af­ter the cases of Colten Boushie and Tina Fon­taine re­sulted in ac­quit­tals.Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man, died from a shot to the head on a farm near Big­gar in Au­gust 2016. The landowner, Ger­ald Stan­ley, was ac­quit­ted of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing that his gun went off ac­ci­den­tally.Fon­taine was 15 years old when she dis­ap­peared in Win­nipeg in 2014. Her body, wrapped in a du­vet cover and weighed down by rocks, was pulled from the Red River eight days later.A jury found Ray­mond Cormier not guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.The camp’s mem­bers were protest­ing what they said was racial in­jus­tice and the dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of Indige­nous chil­dren in care.Spokes­woman Robyn Pitawanakwat said a visit from Moe may have led to a so­lu­tion.“I think that him show­ing up to have the con­ver­sa­tion would have in­di­cated that he was in­vested in some sort of out­come that would have ben­e­fited Indige­nous fam­i­lies in Saskatchewan,” she said.Cab­i­net min­is­ters who came to the camp didn’t lis­ten to re­quests, Pitawanakwat said.The camp, which was or­dered to be dis­man­tled by a judge in Sep­tem­ber, helped re­unite 12 fam­i­lies with chil­dren in care, she said.“We were able to help in­di­vid­ual fam­i­lies but the sys­tem is still work­ing against Indige­nous youth.”The gov­ern­ment is work­ing with 17 First Na­tions on child-and-fam­ily-ser­vice agree­ments but more ef­fort is needed, Moe said.Since the Boushie trial, Moe’s gov­ern­ment has pro­posed up­dated tres­pass­ing laws which would re­quire peo­ple to get per­mis­sion be­fore go­ing on pri­vate land.The Fed­er­a­tion of Sov­er­eign Indige­nous Na­tions has said the pro­pos­als were drafted with­out any Indige­nous con­sul­ta­tion and warns that the planned leg­is­la­tion could lead to more clashes.Moe said ev­ery­one in the prov­ince was con­sulted through an on­line sur­vey and he con­tin­ues to talk to First Na­tions lead­ers across the prov­ince.

Scott Moe

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