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Ottawa mediator quickly rejected

Native protesters give law professor 'his walking papers' in dispute over title to subdivision site

Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Mar 30, 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.]

An independent mediator sent by Ottawa to ease tensions in a month-long native protest has been sent packing by Six Nations clan mothers and hereditary chiefs.

Native protester Jacqueline House told reporters Michael Coyle was "given his walking papers" on Monday, just three days after he arrived with a letter of introduction from Ottawa.

The letter from Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice described Coyle as a University of Western Ontario law professor who had acted as an independent mediator in First Nations disputes in the past.

He was on a "fact-finding mission" to obtain information about the native occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates building site outside of Caledonia. Until then, Ottawa had kept its distance and suggested the dispute had to be solved locally between the developer, Henco Industries, and the protesters.

Coyle's presence at the site on March 24 appeared to represent a change of heart from Ottawa.

House said Coyle met Six Nation chiefs and clan mothers during the weekend.

But they eventually decided they wouldn't deal with him.

"They told him to send somebody of more importance to the table," House said yesterday during a scrum at the Douglas Creek Estates.

She also read a letter of support from Mohawk activist and 1960s international fashion model Kahentinetha Horn, who also alluded to Coyle's quick exit from the Long House.

" Ottawa sent an independent mediator, Michael Coyle, last week. The women sent him packing, 'there's the Eastern Door. Now, get out'," she wrote.

In her missive, Horn also decried the fact police were massing at a schoolhouse outside of Caledonia and preparing to clear the protesters from the site.

On Tuesday, a Cayuga judge had toughened up a court order to make it easier to arrest the protesters for contempt of court.

Horn, who was involved in the widely publicized land dispute between Mohawk natives and the town of Oka, Que., 16 years ago, said the local OPP and the courts have no jurisdiction over the disputed lands, which she argued still belong to Six Nations under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.

"Are these folks living in a fantasy world? They had only one thing in mind. They want the OPP to 'get over there and shoot the hell of dem bad Injuns.' This ain't no cowboys and Indian spaghetti western," Horn wrote.

Last week, Don Henning of Henco Industries issued a press release and took out a paid ad in a native newspaper stating he has a clear title to the subdivision site.

He said he abided by all the planning requirements, including notification of the Six Nations elected band council, to get the survey approved.

Henning said he's being held "hostage" in a dispute between Ottawa and the protesters and urged Indian Affairs to intervene.

Native spokesperson Janie Jamieson said she noticed more police vehicles in the area yesterday, prompting speculation they were about to move in.

But the threat of mass arrests hasn't dampened the resolve of the protesters, she said.

Asked how the protesters would react if the police came to arrest them, Jamieson replied: "You can't stress yourself over the unknown. It's one step at a time. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

She said she hoped a peaceful resolution could be found to the impasse, which started on Feb. 28 when a small core group of protesters moved onto the site and stopped construction.

The flags, including the Mohawk unity flag, were at half mast yesterday in honour of protester Jason Harris, who was killed in a single-car accident on the Six Nations reserve on the weekend.

A son of Six Nations elected band councillor Barbara Harris, Jason was one of the original protesters who moved onto the site a month ago.

"He was a good guy. He spent a lot of nights and days here. He and I were great friends," said fellow protester Jeff Hawk.

Harris was returning home from the protest site when the accident occurred.

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