Organizers of Camp Pekiwewin, a Cree word meaning coming home or inbound, say the 170 tents currently covering Remax Field in downtown Edmonton aren’t going anywhere until their demands are met.
“It’s been very peaceful, the community has all taken a part here in growing Pekiwewin Camp,” said organizer Deanna Cachagee who added that the camp has been well behaved since starting as a small gathering of 10 tents on July 24.
“Everyone has been chipping in.”
Most of the tents are housing homeless people.
The organizers include community groups such as Black Lives Matter, Shades Of Colour, Beaver Hill Warriors, Treaty 6 Outreach, and the Crazy Indian Brotherhood.
Peter Kane, president of the Edmonton Chapter of the CIB says his group has helped pitch tents and provide security.
“It’s basically in solidarity to police violence against the homeless,” he said.
The organizers have a list of demands they want from the city of Edmonton before they pack up and leave including; $39 million defunded from the Edmonton Police Service, an end to police violence against the homeless and free transit.
The City of Edmonton issued a statement saying they have talked with the organizers of Camp Pekiwewin and have arranged supplies and are working to find a way to help homeless people.
The statement also warns that officials are monitoring the situation and will act if conditions escalate at the camp.
Both sides have agreed to not increase the size of the camp.
One member chipping in is a man called Uncle Jerry. He has been staying at the camp for several days.
He said the camp has become a family.
He told APTN News that the previous night he invited a stranger to sleep in his tent after a heavy rain. The next morning, the stranger got his paycheque and invited him to have a steak dinner that night. “That’s our supper!” he said.
Families are here as well with children playing and stories being told around the sacred fire by Elders.
“We are staying here as long as it takes.” Says Kane. “There’s not set date to shut down, until our demands are met.”