Organizers behind the Indigenous Land Back Camp in Victoria Park are planning an event in Waterloo.
This Thursday, supporters are expected to show up at the Waterloo Town Square to call on the cities and region to listen to the camp's demands.
The Land Back Camp has been set up in Victoria Park in Kitchener since June 21, with organizers exercising their Indigenous right to occupy public land for ceremonial purposes. The other reason behind their occupation was to draw attention to the lack of Indigenous spaces within Waterloo Region.
"So we're asking folks to come out and support us in our demands from the city—from both cities: Waterloo and Kitchener, as well as the region—around the four asks," said co-organizer Amy Smoke.
Earlier in July, the group had launched a successful Gofundme campaign and petition drawing over five-thousand signatures. In their petition they laid out their key demands to the cities and region: the waving of permits and fees for public spaces; the creation of ceremonial space; job positions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit; as well as an Indigenous advisory council.
"In order to keep the city hall—both city halls really—moving forward in what they call, advancing their reconciliation actions," Smoke said.
The group had met with the mayors of Kitchener and Waterloo three times during the occupation. Both mayors agreed to fulfill some early requests (bathroom access, reducing police interactions with the camp, etc), but the latest demands laid out in the petition are taking time to process.
The last meeting with the mayors proved disappointing to organizers, calling it " just a bunch of rhetoric," with nothing tangible to show.
"The policy around waving fees and permits and all of the bureaucracy that goes with just having an event in their spaces should be fairly easy. They have to rewrite the policy, it has to go to council, it has to be approved. We could have done that by now,' Smoke said. They say progress has been slow and they are still unsure when they are slated to appear before council.
In the meantime, the Land Back Camp is teaming up with Idle No More Kitchener/Waterloo to hold the rally and feature speakers from the community. Organizers are asking that supporters bring signs, wear a mask if they can and keep six feet of distance from each other.
"In addition to the five thousand signatures, we like to see that actual physical presence of folks right out in front of city hall basically," Smoke said.
If you feel sick or have been out of the country in the last 14 days, organizers ask that you stay home. They also plan on livestreaming the event from their Facebook page.
The rally begins on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. More info can be found HERE.