US & Canada

Canada parliament teepee protesters detained

Barriers are set up near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 28, 2017, as Canadian prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of confederation. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Security is tight in downtown Ottawa as the city prepares for Canada Day celebrations

Police have detained nine indigenous protestors in Canada who erected a teepee outside parliament ahead of the country's 150th anniversary events.

The demonstrators in Ottawa were issued with a trespass notice and released overnight.

Canada Day this year is controversial among some members of the indigenous community who note they have been in North America for thousands of years.

Many say they see little reason to celebrate 150 years of colonialism.

The activists told media in the national capital that they intend to stay on the site, which is directly across from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office and will be right in the heart of the celebrations through this weekend.

Protestors are calling it a "Reoccupation Ceremony" and say they want to raise awareness about indigenous issues.

Bawating Water Protectors from Sault Ste Marie, a town in the province of Ontario some 800km (500 miles) from Ottawa, were among the organisers of the demonstration.

Image copyright Twitter/@VeldonCoburn
Image caption The structure was raised in the early morning hours

Jessica Bolduc, who is with that group, told the Canadian Press the protest is about recognising Canada has a long way to go before it can claim full reconciliation with indigenous people in the country.

"We talk about this smart and caring nation, but don't acknowledge that those privileges aren't afforded to indigenous peoples in the same way that they are to folks who have settled here, whether that was 200 years ago or to people who we are welcoming here today in a ceremony of becoming Canadian," she said.

Among the issues raised by indigenous groups are that about half of First Nations children live in poverty and are sent to foster care at higher rates than non-indigenous Canadians and the high suicide rate among indigenous communities.

After being elected in 2015, Mr Trudeau promised to fix Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples.

On Thursday, Mr Trudeau told a news conference he understood impatience at the slow pace of change after "decades and centuries of a broken relationship", but said redefining that relationship would take time.

Celebrations in Ottawa are expected to attract upwards of 500,000 people, much bigger than the usual crowds that attend the annual 1 July Canada Day festivities in the city.

Security has been beefed up in advance of the national holiday.

Many streets around Parliament Hill will be closed to vehicles.

Canadian police services and intelligence agencies are working to ensure the safety of crowds.

Events are planned across the national capital region for the weekend, with the main celebration focused on Parliament Hill.

It will host concerts by artists like Bono and The Edge, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Gordon Lightfoot and a show by Cirque du Soleil.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will also be in Ottawa to mark the Canada 150 celebration as part of a three-day Royal tour in the country.


As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, BBC World News will explore this vast country throughout July - from discovering some of the most remote places in Canada on The Travel Show to documentary-style programming in Canada Stories.

To mark this occasion, we are offering Canadian audiences the chance to watch BBC World News as a free channel preview. More details here.

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