Several police officers were called to the Alberta Legislature Sunday evening after tensions rose during an Indigenous ceremony that led a climate change crisis rally.
The inter-faith vigil was held in support of youth-led action against climate change, and attended by people belonging to a number of different religions and cultural groups.
At one point, CTV News Edmonton captured video of a man appearing to mock an Indigenous dance, while drummers and singers performed.
The same man was also heard yelling, “Make Canada great again,” during an Indigenous prayer.
He later identified himself to CTV News Edmonton as Mike Kirk.
“There’s a theory that Europeans stole this land. And I find that absolutely ridiculous,” said Kirk, who denied he was mocking the Indigenous dance, but acknowledged he shouted out during the prayer.
“It got quiet and I got the idea,” he said.
“I believe that the native people were violated. But I don’t believe they were exterminated and colonized.”
The Indigenous ceremony continued, while some attending the rally held up a black sheet to block Kirk and two other men with him.
The two sides could be heard shouting insults at each other, while Sheriffs warned Kirk he could be arrested for “disturbing the peace.”
Alberta Sheriffs stood between the two groups, and the Edmonton Police Service confirms three or four vehicles were dispatched to assist Sheriffs.
“Very childish. So, should be gone by now. That kind of attitude,” said Carol Powder, a Cree and Stoney woman who was drumming and singing during the ceremony.
Powder heard Kirk yell out during the prayer, but did not see him appearing to dance.
“I feel bad for them because of karma,” Powder said. “It reminds me of the kids in my school. When I was going to school,(they would) make fun of us natives. It’s OK though. We’re still here.”
EPS said no arrests were made. Kirk and the men he was with left shortly after EPS arrived.
Police said attendees of the climate change crisis rally were “very peaceful” and the event continued without further incident.