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Tremendous support builds for land reclamation action

The Marxist-Leninist
April 21, 2006; #61

[SISIS note: The following news article is provided for reference only. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

As people learned of the assault by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on the Six Nations land reclamation at the Douglas Creek Estates near Caledonia they immediately made their way to the area. Following the early morning raid, the Six Nations peoples and their supporters escorted the OPP off their land and reclaimed the site.

First to arrive were people from the Six Nations, many of whom came while some 150 police were on the site, witnessed the assault and participated in escorting the OPP off the site. They retook the land and closed the road on either side to prevent a repeat of the earlier police assault. Throughout the day they spoke of their actions to defend their dignity as a nation, expressing their determination that their sovereign rights will not be trampled. They insisted that the government negotiate with them nation to nation. The youth spoke movingly about their determination to fight for their nation and the education they received from their elders which had passed on to them this indomitable spirit. Throughout the day and after people got off work, more and more gathered at the site.

People also began arriving from Hamilton and Toronto and further afield. Active and retired steelworkers from United Steelworkers Local 1005 were present throughout the day. Later in the day, as concern increased about the possibility of a further police attack, a large contingent from Local 1005, including its president Rolf Gerstenberger, positioned themselves at the barricades with flags flying. Students from McMaster Univerity and activists from the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights also joined in. From Toronto there were activists from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No One Is Illegal and Justicia for Migrant Workers, as well as many youth who took the initiative to come and stand with the Six Nations.

Many workers from different unions, including quite a few from two Ironworkers locals, lent their support to the land reclamation. In one of the locals some 30 per cent of the members are First Nations peoples. There were also workers from the Ontario Nurses' Association, Steelworkers locals and the Canadian Auto Workers. They brought with them the convictions of the workers in their unions of the justness of the First Nations' cause.

Several chiefs of the Six Nations Confederacy early in the day spoke to those at the site, reading the confederacy's press release and thanking the people who had so vigorously defended the rights of the First Nations. They said that they were calling on links they had internationally to put pressure on the Canadian government to deal with First Nations' legitimate claims.

Early in the afternoon a spokeswoman for the land reclamation announced that the Mohawk nation in Quebec was blockading the Mercier Bridge in support for the Six Nations' actions in Caledonia. There were also reports that First Nations peoples were being blocked from entering Canada from the U.S. to join the action and of harassment and arrests of First Nations peoples leaving their reserves to travel to the action.

Copies of the day's issue of TML Daily were widely circulated and well received as was the news that it was being sent out nationally and internationally in order to smash the silence on the just struggle of the First Nations.

In the early evening at least 700 to 800 people had gathered, defending both the main entrance from Caledonia and other entrances to the land reclamation, determined to stand their ground. As of the early morning hours, despite many rumours and reports of more police gathering and an army staging ground at the Hamilton airport, the police had launched no further attacks.

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