Colten Boushie's mom joins protest camp at Sask. Legislative Building

Debbie Baptiste arrived four nights ago at the camp which bears the now well-known face of her son on a banner near the entrance.

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Sitting at the protest camp set up near the Legislative Building, Debbie Baptiste can feel her son’s presence there.

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp was set up partially in response to the acquittal in the case of the death of her son, Colten Boushie.

Baptiste arrived four nights ago at the camp which bears the now well-known face of her son on a banner near the entrance.

“I cry and hurt every day for my son,” said Baptiste. “This needs to stop. The government has to do something now.”

Debbie Baptiste, mother of the late Colten Boushie, stands in the protest camp on the grounds of the Legislative Building in Regina. Baptiste brought along Colten’s dog Chico. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

Baptiste spoke to media during a joint announcement made between camp supporters, the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism and Colonialism No More early Tuesday morning.

“These are strong men, strong women, strong warriors, to sit through the winter like that,” she said. “I’m here to support them.”

The group extended a formal invitation to the deputy minister of the Provincial Capital Commission, Richard Murray, Minister of Justice Don Morgan, and Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman — and anyone else those three would like to invite — to a meeting at the camp on June 22 at 1 p.m.

The invitation came after a meeting set up between the two groups fell through when they could not agree on a location.

MLA Ken Cheveldayoff, second from left, and political staffers meet with members of a protest camp in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on May 24. BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post

“They did come out, they did shake my hand, they did plan on coming out to meet us, but obviously they were uncomfortable with sitting with us in the teepee,” said camp supporter Prescott Demas.

“Myself and other people here are more comfortable in being … some place less intimidating than having to go into (the Legislative Building),” he said.

In an emailed statement hours after the formal invitation was extended, the government said: “The Government of Saskatchewan has tried to arrange two meetings with the group and both times and locations were rejected. The group has been advised that their ongoing encampment in the park is not permitted and they must vacate. Therefore, government officials will not be meeting with the group at the encampment.”

Demas says he’s not surprised.

So there’s their official invitation; now they don’t want it” he said.

Baptiste is determined to stay at the camp until her voice is heard. She says Boushie is the reason she is there.

Sticking close to her heels as she made her way around the camp chatting with supporters, was her son’s chihuahua, Chico. She says the dog’s connection with Boushie was so strong, that when Colten never came home, Chico got sick and nearly died.

Drawing strength from each other through a tragedy no mother should have to endure, they both fought through the pain to where they are today.

Colten Boushie

“I’d like to thank all the people who (gave me) a lot of support, good words and encouragement to keep moving forward,” she said. “If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I would have been able to get through all of this.”

But her journey isn’t over and that’s why she arrived at the camp on its 100th day.

“We need a lot of prayers and support for these families that got their loved ones taken away from them,” said Baptiste, whose two grandchildren were apprehended after Boushie’s death and have yet to be returned to her.

She said the loss of her grandchildren — the children of Colten’s brother William —  on top of losing her son has been felt deeply and is representative of the Canadian systems in place to that take away Indigenous children and cause pain to Indigenous families.

Taken away while she grieved her son, she said there have been several promises to reunite the family, but she’s become doubtful that will ever happen. She said it’s hard not knowing where her grandchildren will end up and if they will even know who she is. Even though she lost Colten, she said at least she knows where he is.

“I know where my son’s at. He’s in heaven,” said Baptiste. “I’m here to support the rest of the families, that their loved ones are taken away, lost in a system, foster care then on down to prison. Then we never see them again, hear from them. All we can do is wonder if they’re safe and if they’re OK.”


The camp has also planned a Blanket Exercise, which is open to the public and is to take place at the camp on June 21 at 5 p.m. They have invited the ministers to take part.

The Blanket Exercise compacts 500 years of history into a one-hour session.

Participants stand on blankets that represent the northern part of Turtle Island — now known as Canada — and read from scripts, telling the story of Canada’s Indigenous history from pre-colonization to the present.

The ministers were asked to RVSP by June 15. Tea and bannock is to be provided and the camp proposed meeting on the lawn in case the teepee causes any discomfort for attendees.

“I just hope that somehow this could all resolve somehow. That we could have peace and kindness for one another,” said Baptiste. “Let’s wipe those tears off their faces and give their children back.”

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