Respect Indigenous Peoples who don't want to celebrate Canada 150, Trudeau urges

Published on June 29, 2017

A man stands outside a large teepee erected by indigenous demonstrators to kick off a four-day Canada Day protest in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he understands why many indigenous people in Canada won't be celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, and he wants them treated with respect and understanding.

While Canadians across the country fly flags from porches and don red and white face paint, indigenous groups are planning protests and ceremonial events to remind Canadians that for them, there is nothing to celebrate.

The Bawaating Water Protectors, a group from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., attempted to set up a teepee Wednesday night on Parliament Hill but clashed with police securing the site for Canada Day.

After a few hours, police released about 10 people who had been arrested and the teepee was allowed to be set up on the edge of the parliamentary grounds, fenced off from the rest of the site.

Brendon Nahwegezhic says the group is not there to protest, but to make people aware of the truth of indigenous history in Canada and to witness indigenous ceremonies.

Trudeau, speaking at an event in Charlottetown, says Canadians have to understand Canada has failed indigenous peoples for centuries and he hears what the activists on the Hill were saying.

The Canadian Press