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Mayor loses speaking role on Caledonia

Remarks about Six Nations protesters sideline Trainer, prompt council apology

Kate Harries and James Rusk
Globe & Mail
April 26, 2006 | Posted at 6:16 AM EDT

[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 and TORONTO - Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer was dumped yesterday as the spokeswoman for her municipality on the Six Nations issue for remarks about aboriginals getting welfare payments.

On the day after a community meeting degenerated into a near-riot, four county council members walked to the barricade on Highway 6 -- erected last week after police swooped in on protesters occupying a disputed piece of land -- and apologized to Six Nations representatives.

"We wish to assure the public that the personal views of the mayor do not reflect the views of Haldimand County Council," said deputy mayor Bob Patterson, who has replaced Ms. Trainer as the municipality's spokesperson on the issue.

Ms. Trainer made the remarks during a television interview yesterday morning from the blockade site, metres away from a group of aboriginals. "They don't have money coming in automatically every month," she said of tradespeople who have lost work on the Douglas Creek estates, land Six Nations claims was stolen. "They have got to work to survive."

She was confronted on air by Six Nations spokesman Clyde Powless. "I'm deeply saddened by comments I've heard you made about my people waiting for a monthly cheque," he said. "I'm shocked at you and I will never want to address you again."

Councillor Lorne Boyko, from Dunnville, said the mayor has not been "muzzled." She has a right to speak her mind, he said, but her opinions were not considered in the best interest of the municipality or representative of the views of council. He said Caledonia is getting a bad rap from media coverage of Monday night's three-hour faceoff in which police stopped about 500 people from storming the barricade. Some had been drinking and some yelled racial abuse at the occupiers.

Progressive Conservative MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant), who was at the scene Monday night, said he was taken aback by the "intense, intense irrational anger" of the mob. He suggested one reason for the anger is a failure by the federal and Ontario governments to tell Caledonia residents what is happening in the attempt to defuse the situation. "The people are totally in the dark on all sides, other than there's communication from the confederacy chiefs. If you want to know what is going on, you listen to Ohsweken radio. You don't get it from your government," Mr. Barrett said.

At Queen's Park, the government vowed to communicate better with the community by making information about the status of negotiations more readily available through toll-free telephone lines, websites and community radio stations. David Ramsay, the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, outlined the steps during Question Period in response to persistent criticism from the opposition.

He also said the Ministry of Finance has hired an official to explore ways to provide financial help to Don and John Henning, the brothers who own Henco, the small development company whose project is blocked by the protest.

The Hennings fear their business may be weeks away from bankruptcy, and while the province has promised compensation, they have not yet seen an offer.

A buyout "is not really what we want. We have to consider any options offered to us, but we want to continue on. That's definitely what we want. We want to work in Caledonia," Don Henning said.

They met with a government fact-finder Monday to present their case.

In Vancouver, more than 200 protesters closed off the northbound lanes to Lions Gate Bridge for a little over an hour yesterday, until about 4 p.m. Pacific time, in a show of solidarity with Six Nations.

They beat drums and chanted, and speakers talked about native rights while frustrated motorists were backed up for about 10 blocks into the city core.

With reports from Karen Howlett, Mark Hume and Canadian Press

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