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Natives vow to continue protest after court blow

Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Mar 10, 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.]

Hundreds of new supporters rallied behind a group of native protesters yesterday in anticipation of a police showdown over their occupation of a building site outside of town.

But police kept a low profile all day and the expected confrontation fizzled out.

It was a short-lived respite for protesters, however.

At the end of the day, they were facing possible criminal sanctions if they continued to occupy the Douglas Creek Estates.

Native spokesperson Dawn Smith was initially buoyed by the massive show of support.

She was also happy that police hadn't enforced an injunction that developer Don Henning of Henco Industries obtained last week.

Smith and a core group of a few dozen natives have been occupying the subdivision, which has 10 homes in various stages of construction, since March 2.

They erected barricades preventing about 75 workers from entering the project and strung up a large banner proclaiming the site Six Nations Land.

"Everybody is pretty positive," Smith told reporters yesterday morning. "The mood is very upbeat."

Another protester, Jeff Hawk, suggested police can't afford to be heavy-handed with natives while the Ipperwash inquiry is going on.

"The ink isn't even dry on the Ipperwash inquiry," he told the media.

"Do you think they'll storm the gates? They have to be careful what they do."

At that point, the protesters were still hopeful the Ontario Superior Court in Cayuga would quash the Henco injunction ordering them off the site.

But by afternoon, the mood had turned grim when protesters learned that Henco lawyer Michael Bruder had convinced the judge to take decisive action against the protesters.

In his submissions, Bruder described the occupation as a "powder keg" and the protesters as a "splinter group."

Superior Court Justice David Marshall granted a permanent injunction against the protesters and agreed they could be charged with contempt of a court order if they refused to leave.

They would be liable for fines and even jail time.

Marshall adjourned the case until March 16 when the enforcement of the contempt clause will be discussed.

Inspector Brian Haggith of the Cayuga OPP said the new order will be posted at the site within a day or so and protesters will be encouraged to comply.

"We are going to do what we can to resolve this peacefully," Haggith told reporters.

He said it would be wrong for protesters to assume they've been given a week of grace to get off the site. He said the order is legal and goes into effect immediately.

Smith was disappointed to learn about the tough measures.

"I'm not surprised," she said. "I am disappointed the Canadian government has failed our people again. This is a federal matter. It has no business in a provincial court. They have no jurisdiction. They need a history lesson."

Another native spokesperson, Janie Jamieson, described the occupation as a "political rather than police matter."

She told reporters she and two other protesters, including Smith, were specifically singled out as being in contempt of the injunction during yesterday's court hearing.

But the threat of jail wouldn't deter her from continuing the action.

"We'll be here until the jurisdiction and the title of the land is restored to Six Nations," she said.

"Everything has been peaceful and will continue to be peaceful," the soft-spoken activist added.

Smith said she wasn't surprised that so many natives had showed up to support their protest yesterday morning when it was believed police would come to enforce the injunction and remove them from the site.

"I have faith in our people or I wouldn't be here," she said. She, too, vowed to stay.

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