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Builders respond to native land claim

Karen Best - Chronicle Staff Writer
Dunville Chronicle
Local News - Wednesday, April 05, 2006 @ 05:00

[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.]

CALEDONIA -- Contractors and construction business owners held their own protest on April 4 in Caledonia in the latest action related to native occupation of a subdivision.

According to a notice distributed in town, people were asked to gather in front of the Caledonia Haldimand County office and the Caledonia OPP office to protest lack of action by municipal, provincial and federal governments.

“This town needs to show its support,” read the notice. “If this situation is not resolved quickly, we could all be looking at significant decreases in property values.”

On Feb. 28, a group of Six Nations activists began an occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision under development by Henco Industries. Owners John and Don Henning stated they have title to the land.

According to Six Nations citizens who continue the land reclamation, the property, which is in the Plank Road lease, was to be leased in 21 year increments and was never to be sold.

The subdivision is part of the 950,000 acre deed of land along the Grand River given in perpetuity to the Mohawks and others of the Six Nations for their allegiance to the British in the American War of Independence.

In a 1995 Canadian attorney general statement of defence, the federal government noted that the lease of these lands was approved at a Six Nations council meeting in 1835. This court statement was filed after Six Nations initiated an Ontario Court of Justice action seeking resolution of land claims.

In 1835, Upper Canada lieutenant governor Sir Francis Bond Head would not accept the decision to surrender the land to leases. In the absence of leases, Six Nations surrendered the lands for sale in January 1841. In 1843 and 1844, the Six Nations council affirmed its decision to sell the lands that included the Plank Road lots.

This council pre-dated the elected band council which was established by the federal government in 1924.

The protest letter accused the OPP of negligence and contempt of court because they are not arresting Six Nations citizens occupying the subdivision. Residents are asked to apply pressure to Mayor Marie Trainer, Haldimand Norfolk MP Diane Finley, Haldimand Norfolk Brant MP Toby Barrett and the OPP commissioner.

In an April 3 press release, the OPP expressed respect for the court direction and “as a last resort will execute the court ordered warrants of arrest to remove the occupiers in the safest means possible”. Meanwhile the OPP is exploring all peaceful options to achieve a safe and lasting resolution to this situation.

On March 30, Sheriff John Dawson served activists with a court order declaring they were in criminal and civil contempt of an injunction that ordered them to leave the site on March 3. Those arrested would be released on six months probation and would be banned from coming within 100 feet of the property.

When the sheriff arrived and began reading the order, Jeff Hawk simultaneously read a Notice of Violation of Law prepared by Six Nations.

This notice said the sheriff and others were in violation of the State of Peace, the native’s Supreme Law of the Universe.

The native notice accused agents of Canada, Ontario and the Queen of intentions to break the peace and conspiracy to commit murder, blood sacrifice and genocide against the original people of the land. Under the authority of the law, he said agents of the government bodies “shall now be at peace”.

When Hawk finished, Mike Laughing began to demand that the sheriff, whose hands were shaking, step back over a black spray painted line. Earlier reporters were told that natives could not guarantee the safety of anyone who stepped over the line.

Upon the advice of OPP Constable Monte Kohoko, who accompanied him, Dawson stepped back over the line. Laughing, clearly angry, told the sheriff he was being disrespectful of the Indian way. “Our law was here first,”he said, noting that the sheriff had also been served. “We are here to stay.”

“What will they do when the second wave comes in,“ wondered Laughing.

If police arrived to arrest him, Hawk would resist. If he was arrested and released on probation, he would return. “We plan to maintain the site until we get what we want,”he added. “First and foremost, we want the title. Nobody else is going to develop here.”

Meanwhile the Caledonia resident protest letter stated that the government should pay Henco, builders, trades men and home owners a monthly stipend until the situation is resolved. Money would be well spent to guarantee a safe outcome and to ensure the survival of the single largest industry (residential development) in our area, continued the protest letter.

On the morning of April 4, Michael Coyle was in the midst of completing his report for the department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). On March 23, INAC minister Jim Prentice appointed the mediator, who has over 11 years experience in native issue resolution, as a fact finder. Coyle was asked to investigate grievances, identify jurisdictional implications and explore the possibility of mediation.

In related action, the Caledonia Regional Chamber of Commerce urged its 200 members to contact government leaders to insist on a quick and permanent resolution. In a letter, the chamber pointed out impacts on the real estate market, local employment and general business trade.

On April 7 at 1:30 p.m., Trainer, Coun. Craig Ashbaugh and county chief administrative officer Bill Pearce will meet with Prentice in his Ottawa office. Neither Trainer or Ashbaugh would disclose specifics on what will be discussed. “Obviously we want some kind of a resolution,”said Ashbaugh. Two weeks ago council requested the meeting.

He felt that the minister’s willingness to meet so soon spoke to the significance of the issue. Like many residents of Caledonia, the councillor is disappointed with the OPP which have yet to take action despite the new order.

This situation is causing a lot of anguish for developers, builders and purchasers, noted Ashbaugh. The land claim dispute is jeopardizing future development for Haldimand and a moratorium on development cannot be allowed, he added.

At a developers meeting held on April 4, a letter from people connected with the subdivision occupation was discussed. According to realtor Bruce MacDonald, the activists insisted on providing input but did not want to be part of the process. “This would indicate that all lands are subject to their interference,” he noted.

During a recent real estate transaction, the interested parties told MacDonald that they would not purchase property in the Douglas Creek survey.

Like Henco Industries, MacDonald was subject to a $110 million Texas lien filed by trustees of the Mohawk nation. Other than acting as a real estate agent in the sale of some of the subdivision land almost two decades ago, he has no involvement with the property. His lawyer has contacted the Texas court but has yet to receive a reply.

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