New provincial bill threatens Sacred Fire camp

The leaders of Migiziiwazison Sacred Fire Camp have nurtured a safe space to honour and support victims of residential schools but Manitoba government officials are moving to evict the camp.
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Migiziiwazison sacred fire camp on Manitoba Legislative grounds
Indigenous and 2-Spirit youth hold space at the Migiziiwazison Sacred Fire Camp on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building

Last week, the Migiziiwazison Sacred Fire Camp, located on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, Manitoba), hosted a community potluck and sharing circle.  Camp founders, organizers, firekeepers, and supporters came together to celebrate community and resilience.  For over ten months, Migiziiwazison has been nurturing a safe space to honour the children who died in Canada’s residential school system.  This healing camp has been a support to residential school survivors and a place for Indigenous youth to reclaim their culture, traditions, and identity.  

As several dozen people gathered to share food together, they also shared their hopes and dreams for the camp in the coming months.  There are plans to create a garden on-site to grow vegetables and medicines.  The leaders of Migiziiwazison intend to host weekly sharing circles throughout the summer to involve as many community members as possible.    

Here, on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building, a small but significant Land Back movement is taking place.  Indigenous and 2-Spirit youth are leading by example, facilitating land-based healing practices for the benefit of their community.  Migiziiwazison is also a daily reminder to the provincial and federal governments of their responsibility to search all former residential school sites for unmarked graves.      

Instead of heeding this reminder, the provincial government recently introduced the Legislative Security Amendment Act.  This bill proposes that the provincial cabinet set down a list of prohibited activities on the Legislative grounds.  Security officers would have the power to evict and hand out fines to people who engage in these activities.  A chief legislative security officer would be appointed, and security officers could be armed.  Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen has indicated that the establishment of permanent structures and encampments on the Legislative grounds should be among the activities prohibited.  

Pray that Manitoba’s politicians, elected leaders, and policymakers will respect the Sacred Fire.  Pray for the firekeepers at Migiziiwazison who tend to this healing space and for the Indigenous youth who continue to fan the flames of justice. 

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