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Native standoff is a provincial matter: Ottawa

By Carmela Fragomeni
Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 7, 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.]

The federal government says the five-week native occupation of a Caledonia construction site is a provincial matter.

Deirdre McCracken, a spokesperson for Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, said yesterday the blockade "has nothing to do with the federal government.

"This isn't a lands-claim matter. The actual root of the problem is not a land claim. For the time being, it's a protest."

Dozens of natives, with backing from the Six Nations traditional chiefs and clan mothers, but not their elected band council, took over the new subdivision site on Feb. 28. A Superior Court judge in Cayuga ordered the protesters off after the developer won an injunction, but the Ontario Provincial Police have yet to evict them.

McCracken said the issue is now a police matter and police fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer disagreed. She travels to Ottawa this afternoon to meet Prentice and Diane Finley, Haldimand-Norfolk MP and Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. "Everything to do with natives has to do with the federal government. The natives don't want to leave until they are assured something will happen with their land claim," said Trainer. She wants to hear "from minister Prentice's own lips" what he has to say about it before commenting further.

Prentice and Finley were unavailable to speak to The Spectator.

Trainer plans to tell Prentice just how dire the situation has become in Caledonia and request financial assistance for residents affected by the occupation -- from construction workers to those who bought houses now inaccessible to them. About 500 Caledonia residents staged a rally on Wednesday, demanding authorities end the occupation.

Janie Jamieson, speaking for the native protesters, said she was not surprised by Ottawa's response. "It seems like they're apprehensive of taking responsibility for what's happening here. We deal on a nation-to-nation basis. Part of the issue here is constitutional jurisdiction, which the OPP doesn't have."

McCracken said the federal government is talking with the Six Nations band council about two land claim issues and is awaiting a fact-finding report to see how it can help with the standoff which is "really under the jurisdiction of the province."

The elected council is opposed to the protest, but has included the land at issue, known as the Plank Road Tract, as one of 29 land claims registered with Ottawa. The two current claims it is trying to settle do not include Plank Road.

Hamilton Mountain MPP Marie Bountrogianni, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, said earlier this week Premier Dalton McGuinty remains committed to furthering co-operation with Ontario's First Nations, but will not get involved in the standoff. She declined comment yesterday.

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