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I'm 'caught in the middle' of land dispute: developer

Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
HAGERSVILLE (Mar 2, 2006)

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

A developer whose construction site is being occupied by native protesters feels he's been dragged into a political dispute that has nothing to do with him.

Don Henning, of Henco Industries, said he believes the conflict brewing at Douglas Creek Estates is out of his hands.

"We're sympathetic to Six Nations and some of their historical causes," the Hagersville resident said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"We have done nothing wrong or illegal. The real dispute is with the federal government. It has nothing to do with us. We're caught in the middle."

He would neither confirm nor deny claims he was seeking a court injunction to have the natives removed from the residential building site south of Caledonia.

"We'd like to see a quick and peaceful resolution," he said.

About a dozen peaceful protesters, including representatives of the Six Nations Confederacy, moved onto the site Tuesday morning and strung a large banner proclaiming "Six Nations Land" between two lamp posts at the subdivision entrance off Argyle Street.

They also erected barriers and have prevented workers from entering the site for the past two days. There are now nine or 10 houses in various stages of construction, including two that have sold and were to be occupied in the near future.

Native spokesperson Dawn Smith said the protesters -- who now have a camper parked in the survey -- will continue the occupation "until this land is recognized as Six Nations territory."

She said the land is part of the original Brant tract established over 200 years ago and was never sold or transferred to non-natives.

"The houses are being built on stolen lands ... Henco doesn't own the land," Smith told the media yesterday.

A single mother who recently moved back to the reserve, Smith said the protesters are acting under the direction of the Six Nations Confederacy, the traditional chiefs. They believe the Confederacy -- and not the elected band council -- has the authority to negotiate lands on behalf of Six Nations.

In a radio interview yesterday, Chief David General, of the elected band council, said the occupation demonstrates the need for governments to deal with "hot spots" that flare up periodically.

He said the Six Nations band council has "an exploratory process" in place to avoid confrontations and speed up the land claims process.

Band council spokesperson Dan David said the "exploratory process" was instituted about 10 years ago to avoid costly and contentious lawsuits over land claims.

"It just involves the band council, the federal and provincial governments. It's not a land claims negotiation process. It's a way to get the parties to the table," he said.

David said it takes on average 20 years to settle a land claim with the federal government and 19 years for the Ontario government just a register a land claim.

When the exploratory process was established, he added, there were 28 registered land claims in the province. The parties selected two of the claims they felt would lend themselves to a more collaborative and less adversarial approach among the parties.

David said the area being occupied by the protesters is not one of the 28 registered claims and wouldn't qualify under the current criteria.

He said Douglas Creek Estates is part of a tract that was transferred to a third party. Under the policy, third party lands are exempt from land claims, he added.

"What the band council is saying, it's not a major concern," he said.

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