Tenting a stand against evictions

Mary Marie McGregor Pitawanakwat stands by the tent she erected in front of the Whitefish River First Nation band office to protest her second eviction on the reserve. photo by Michael Erskine

BIRCH ISLAND—Whitefish River First Nation elder Mary Marie McGregor Pitawanakwat thought she had found a solution to her homelessness after being evicted by her brother three years ago from the house she asserts she was left by her parents, Violet and Archie McGregor, but after building a tiny house out of two sheds on the band property known as the Hawkin’s Mill Site she received an eviction notice for trespassing.

“An Indian cannot trespass on an Indian reserve,” asserts Ms. McGregor Pitawanakwat, who adds that she does not accept the jurisdiction of the non-Native courts. “They don’t listen to me,” she said.

In protest she erected a temporary tent in front of the band office to bring attention to her protest. “I am not going away,” she said. “I am doing this for all of the other elders who have wrongly been evicted from their traditional land.”

The band has offered Ms. McGregor Pitawanakwat alternate living arrangements, but she is adamant that she should not need to accept that offer. “I already own two houses,” she said. “The one my parents left me and the one I built.”