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Native leaders, government continue talks to end standoff

Last Updated Fri, 21 Apr 2006 18:27:30 EDT
CBC News:

[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.]

Federal and provincial officials, police and native leaders continue to meet in an effort to end a native standoff in southwestern Ontario, the province's premier said Friday.

Dalton McGuinty said a mediator is involved and his government remains hopeful it will be able to resolve the situation peacefully. Natives are staging a protest at a construction site in in Caledonia, about 90 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

"It's early yet for us to have good indication as to when we're going to be able to resolve this, but I think the important thing for all the parties involved to do is to continue discussions and to allow cooler heads to prevail," he said.

Tensions appear to have eased since more than 200 protesters moved in Thursday, setting up barricades, after Ontario Provincial Police staged a pre-dawn raid to remove native demonstrators from the disputed tract of land they had been occupying since late February.

Sixteen people were arrested and later released on bail.

Demonstrators first occupied the site on Feb. 28 to stop construction by Henco Industries on land they say was stolen from the Six Nations more than 200 years ago.

The province says aboriginals gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new highway, an agreement a Six Nations spokesperson said was only meant to be a lease.

Six Nations filed a land claim suit over the area in 1999.

There are plans to build 250 homes on the 40-hectare site.

The province was granted a court injunction in March to remove the protesters, but staged their raid on Thursday because they said "escalation activity" had given them reason to be concerned. Police said New York licence plates had been seen around the site.

Earlier, McGuinty said his government had in no way influenced the police decision to remove the demonstrators. He said he would take as much time as needed to settle the dispute peacefully.

Thursday's events raised the spectre of the 1995 standoff in Ipperwash, Ont., which ended with a police raid and protester Dudley George shot dead.

George's death is the subject of an ongoing inquiry, which has heard testimony from former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday he was watching developments in Caledonia closely.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine is also concerned that the Caledonia protest could turn more ugly and said blocking roads and occupying land is not the answer.

"We still believe that the most effective way [of] achieving change is through negotiations," he said.

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