Saskatchewan’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. A Saskatchewan judge who ruled a Metis man could stay on the lawn of the provincial legislature to finish his hunger strike against high suicide rates visited the protester in a teepee Sunday as the demonstration drew to an end.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Saskatchewan’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. A Saskatchewan judge who ruled a Metis man could stay on the lawn of the provincial legislature to finish his hunger strike against high suicide rates visited the protester in a teepee Sunday as the demonstration drew to an end.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Judge drops by protest camp at Saskatchewan legislature that he ruled on last week

Tristen Durocher has fasted while living for 44 days in a teepee in Regina’s Wascana Park

A Saskatchewan judge who ruled a Metis man could stay on the lawn of the provincial legislature to finish his hunger strike against high suicide rates visited the protester Sunday as the demonstration drew to an end.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Graeme Mitchell spoke with Tristen Durocher, who fasted while living for 44 days in a teepee in Regina’s Wascana Park following a 635-kilometre march from northern Saskatchewan that began earlier this summer.

“To the politicians who are going to scream bias, bias, bias because a judge who signed his decision wanted to see the freedom of expression and freedom of religion that his profession is supposed to be fighting and rooting for, by all means go ahead, because you just look that much more ridiculous,” Durocher told reporters Sunday following the judge’s visit.

The provincial government took Durocher to court after the 24-year-old started camping in a teepee in the park, arguing Durocher was violating park bylaws that prohibit overnight camping and saying his presence posed a safety risk.

But Mitchell dismissed the government’s application for a court order to remove Durocher, saying the bylaws and trespassing notice against him were unconstitutional.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan declined to comment on the judge’s presence at the demonstration.

“Out of respect for the independence of the judiciary, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the participation of a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench in an event with an individual, particularly while that judge is still in the midst of writing the full decision involving that same individual,” he said.

Mitchell delivered a basic decision on the camp Friday because of the tight turnaround between the hearing date and conclusion of the fast. He said previously he intends to deliver a ruling that goes into more depth.

According to a document “Ethical Principles for Judges” on the Canadian Judicial Council’s website, judges should ”consider whether mere attendance at certain public gatherings might reasonably give rise to a perception of ongoing political involvement or reasonably put in question the judge’s impartiality on an issue that could come before the court.”

The document’s stated purpose is to provide ethical guidelines for federally appointed judges. It is not a binding code.

Mitchell could not be reached for comment by The Canadian Press, but before entering the teepee he told the Regina Leader-Post that he “just wanted to come and visit the site.”

Durocher’s lawyer told a court last week that the ceremonial fast was protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because he’s an Indigenous man.

Mitchell acknowledged in his ruling Friday the work that’s already been done around reconciliation, including the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

He wrote the fast “represents an admittedly small and personal attempt to encourage all of us to move a little further along in our national journey.”

Durocher said the hunger strike ended at sundown on Saturday night, and there was a feast on Sunday before the teepee was to be taken down. Several members of the protest group cut their braids and tied them together in a noose, which they hung on the door of the legislature.

“This won’t be the end of Indigenous people coming to the Wascana Park west lawn to voice their grievances in a ceremonial way, and whatever way they choose, protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of our country, because that is their right as citizens,” he said.

Durocher’s friend, Christopher Merasty, presented Mitchell with a Metis sash. Merasty said the judge put it on with tears in his eyes and continued to wear it as he left.

He said he was honoured Mitchell accepted the sash.

“That right there shows the truth and reconciliation, not only with the Metis, with the First Nations, with everybody here that’s advocating for change,” Merasty said.

“That is a big step forward in the right direction.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Nelson Police responded to 802 calls last year they say had an element of mental health. File photo
Nelson Police: 802 mental-health related calls in 2020

That accounts for 12 per cent of total calls for service

Several large trees came down in the recent windstorm and destroyed a part of the building that houses Camp Koolaree’s showers and boy’s washroom. The camp has served generations of Kootenay families since 1931 as the Nelson area’s longest running children’s summer camp. Photo: Submitted
Camp Koolaree’s wash house destroyed by January windstorms

The camp is in need of donations to make repairs

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Most Read