A First Nations reserve in Alberta is thankful for prayers as they continue to face troubling circumstances.
Enoch Cree Nation (ECN) is cautioning its residents after they experienced violence over the weekend.
Near Edmonton, Alberta, GraceLife Church has been closed by police after not following public health orders. Since being barricaded last week, protests have erupted. These protests have made their way onto ECN. ECN neighbours GraceLife Church, located five kilometres apart. While unavailable for an interview, ENC says they welcome, and are thankful for, prayers.
RCMP warned the community trespassing could occur on Thursday, but initially, limited RCMP officers were present. When groups gathered at ECN, community members came out in droves, asking people not to protest or park on the land.
"My 81-year-old Nokum Na-AHs Clara was the first person out there; she is a huge supporter of our ECN Church & right to worship. But she wants people to be safe," Chief Billy Morin says in a statement. "That is her home driveway that was clearly marked with an Enoch Sign, and one that reads 'No Trespassing.' She does not want Enoch’s and her land disrespected. Having these 'patriots' trespass on our and her home was putting her life in danger."
Council Division Lead Amanda Morin addressed protesters who were trespassing on their land, calling their actions sick. She walked on Sunday, thankful for the vast majority who were leaving, but disturbed by her Chief's vehicle being vandalized during the process.
In a statement, she said almost everyone who trespassed was respectful when they learnt what was going on with some reaching out to apologize.
Ninanaskomin for the overwhelming support for our Nation today & “all our relations”. No matter where u come from, what your ethnic background is, age, race, sexual orientation, gender or relationship with a higher spiritual being, I thank you all. A few of the many messages. pic.twitter.com/idASk1DbwG— Enoch Cree Nation (@CreeEnoch) April 13, 2021
"The 5% that weren't so kind, pushed every single button, to points of racism, getting aggressive - let me tell you, had I been a different person things may not have been so peaceful, meaning had I reacted to their insults, there would have been different outcomes. I did not, when they chose to stand and argue with me, I walked away but not before telling them the consequences of not taking their property off of the Nation, when politely being asked to do so," she says.
Amanda says on Sunday their Chief and an elder was subject to violence from the group.
Considering the pandemic, they were concerned about COVID-19 spreading by attendees, most of whom did not wear masks. GraceLife continues to meet in an unknown location.
Enoch continues to be on high alert, cautioning residents to stay safe as protesting evolves. An Indigenous arborist company has volunteered to donate their time to help repair and clean away any damage their trees may have faced during these events.