News / Ottawa

Update: Teepee on Parliament Hill to be moved front and centre

Details being worked out, but it appears dispute over where to put teepee is over.

A large teepee erected by Indigenous activists in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A large teepee erected by Indigenous activists in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

A conflict over where Indigenous culture fits into Canada’s big birthday party seems to be resolved, with a teepee set to stand tall right beside rock stars and pop acts in the Peace Tower’s shadow.

Organizer Hamda Deria, who was working with the group that brought the tepee to Parliament Hill Wednesday night, announced to a crowd of supporters that the RCMP had agreed to allow the teepee to be erected just beside the massive stage.

While details were still being worked out, Deria said they expected to move the teepee later Thursday evening.

The drama began after 10 p.m. Wednesday, when a group composed of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people attempted to carry the teepee’s long wooden poles onto the Hill.

At first, officers grabbed the three-metre long wooden poles at one end, preventing the group from bringing them beyond the grounds’ entryway, while the group held the other side in an at times tense confrontation with officers.

Nine people were arrested in the initial confrontation but were later released without charge.

The police later moved metal road closure barricades across the entryway and moved behind the barricade.

The group held the poles over their heads for more than an hour before an agreement was reached to temporarily erect the teepee just inside the gates of the hill.

Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail, an Inew-Cree and Eeyou Cree woman, addressed the crowd early Thursday morning. She was adamant that Indigenous people have the right to set up a place for ceremonies on the Hill.

"We have every right to be here on our land," she said. "Our lodges and our churches were here."

Later that morning, at a press conference, Wabano-Iahtail said the land that the Parliament is built on is not Canada’s property.

“You are our guests in our homeland.”

She also said the media had poorly told the story of Indigenous Canadians. She eventually shut down the press conference after accusing a reporter of asking a racist question.

Another member of the group, Candace Day Neveau, said the events planned for this weekend weren’t making room for Indigenous culture and people.

“We could have made this celebration have an inclusive Indigenous voice, but it wasn’t there at all.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at an event earlier in the day in Charlottetown, said he understood the concerns.  

People hold a teepee, intended to be erected on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

People hold a teepee, intended to be erected on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

“We recognize that over the past decades, generations, indeed centuries, Canada has failed Indigenous Peoples.”

- with files from the Canadian Press

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