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Minister cancels talk on native government

Request made to bar media, students say

Bill Curry
Globe and Mail
April 28, 2006 | Posted at 6:01 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.]

OTTAWA - Federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice yesterday cancelled a speaking event scheduled for tonight that has become the target of a protest over a land-claims standoff in Ontario.

Mr. Prentice was to speak this evening on aboriginal self-government at a meeting of the University of Toronto's Hart House debates committee.

However, on Wednesday, the committee's contact to the minister requested that television cameras not be allowed at the event, according to two students on the debate committee, Ethan Hoddes and Michael Degan.

On the same day, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty began circulating a call to demonstrate at the event to protest against the "colonial master" for failing to act earlier to resolve the land dispute at Six Nations near Caledonia, Ont.

Mr. Prentice's spokeswoman, Deirdra McCracken, said she did not know why the minister cancelled.

Reached briefly outside the Parliament Buildings, Mr. Prentice said he had not cancelled the event to avoid protesters.

"That's not the case," he said, but would not comment further.

Omar Soliman, the student organizing the appearance for Mr. Prentice, said the minister had a scheduling conflict. Mr. Soliman acknowledged asking that cameras not be allowed, but said he was simply arguing that the news media were not invited for other special guests such as former prime minister Joe Clark.

Zainab Madahy, who is playing a lead role in the scheduled protest on behalf of a group called the Coalition in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty, said the protest will go ahead without Mr. Prentice.

Cayuga subchief Leroy Hill, one of the Six Nations representatives at talks to settle the dispute with Canada and Ontario, said the U of T rally organizers had asked him and Confederacy Chief Allen McNaughton to attend and speak.

Meanwhile, community leaders in Caledonia say they are concerned about a planned rally at the Highway 6 blockade site today.

A flyer, produced anonymously, is being circulated in town urging people to turn out and take air horns or other means of making a lot of noise, said Ken Hewitt, organizer of a rally on Monday evening that drew 2,000 people.

With a report from Kate Harries

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