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Talks on, but barricades still up

Mohawk Chief Allen McNaughton says there's still a long way to go in the land dispute

Jennifer Graham, Canadian Press
London Free Press
Sunday, April 23, 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.]

CALEDONIA -- Ongoing negotiations with governments are a good first step toward solving a land dispute, native leaders said yesterday, but they refused to bring down their barricades citing a still-heavy police presence in the area.

For seven weeks, protesters have occupied a 40-hectare piece of land in the community of about 10,000, minutes south of Hamilton.

But there was hope yesterday of achieving a resolution with word of an agreement involving the Ontario and federal governments and the Six Nations.

All parties will appoint representatives who will have the authority to negotiate a draft agreement, which would then be subject to ratification.

Mohawk Chief Allen McNaughton said the first round of talks lasted from 9 a.m. Friday to 4 a.m. yesterday, with another session scheduled to begin late yesterday afternoon.

He said the agreement with the government was significant, but added there's still a long way to go.

"There are still a few issues that we have to resolve -- they're not minor ones."

Clyde Powless, a spokesperson for the protesters, said the negotiations haven't changed much yet, but they are positive.

"They've agreed to keep on speaking, which is always a good thing 'cause if dialogue was open, I truly believe this (demonstration) would never have took place," he said.

But Powless said talks alone are not enough to make the protesters let down their guard.

A blue tarp was erected at one end of the barricade yesterday to shelter protesters from a steady rain.

"I don't see (the barricade coming down)," Powless said. "We're very tense as long as we see (the Ontario Provincial Police). We know the RCMP's sitting at the airport. We're aware of presences all around.

"I mean put yourself here: if Canada came under attack, how much tension would you feel?"

A spokesperson for David Ramsay, Ontario's minister of aboriginal affairs, wouldn't say how much, if any, progress has been made in talks, but said the signing of the agreement is a good start.

"We're working together, negotiations are continuing," said Anne-Marie Flanagan.

The conflict stems from protesters' claims that the contested land was taken from them. They say the Six Nations people agreed to lease the property to the Crown, but it was unfairly sold instead.

The standoff escalated Thursday when a police raid aimed at ending the occupation resulted in dozens more protesters descending on the scene. At least 16 people were arrested in the initial raid.

Provincial police have since kept their distance.

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