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Ex-premier to mediate Caledonia dispute

Province hopes David Peterson can resolve still-simmering land claim row

Richard Brennan - GTA Bureau Chief
Toronto Star
Apr. 30, 2006. 12:36 AM

[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.]

Former Ontario premier David Peterson has been appointed by the province to resolve a two-month-old Mohawk dispute at a Caledonia construction site that has pitted many local residents against the Six Nations protestors.

Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay told the Star yesterday he is concerned about the growing tensions between the two communities, which have lived peacefully together for centuries, and figures Peterson is respected enough in the Indian community to find a middle ground.

"He just completed a very successful conclusion to negotiations with Ontario First Nations when it comes to dividing of the revenues from gambling in Ontario and he developed some great relationships there," said Ramsay, who is also responsible for native affairs.

"My concern is the deterioration between the two communities. For 250 years, they have co-existed in that area and have really built a very good relationship," he said.

Peterson, who was paid $1,000 a day to resolve the gambling revenue dispute, could not be reached for comment. The government would not say how much he is being paid this time.

Ramsay said that, as a former Liberal premier, Peterson has a broad range of experience that will be required to find a solution that will appease the Six Nations, the developers of Douglas Creek Estates and Caledonia residents.

Mohawk Confederacy Chief Allen MacNaughton said he was pleased the province was trying to find a solution, "now we are just waiting for the federal people." He added: "I would like it to be resolved peacefully as soon as possible so we can get on with our day-to-day lives."

Ramsay stressed that Peterson will be looking at just this one outstanding land claim and not the wider issue of land claims, adding an announcement is expected Friday on a longer term solution.

"He is there to deal with the immediate issues of the blockade and the dispute over the Douglas Creek Estates property," he said. "By Friday I will be naming a longer term negotiator to carry on with the larger long-term land claim."

Meanwhile, the province has provided an undisclosed amount of bridge financing for the developer brothers Don and John Henning. "This is just temporary, helping them to stay solvent because they were about to go bankrupt in two weeks."

Ramsay said Peterson was expected to begin early today with briefings from provincial officials and was to be in Caledonia by the afternoon.

Ramsay said he wants to resolve the issue peacefully, knowing that every day the standoff continues emotions on both side of the debate become more unpredictable.

Last Friday, about 500 residents gathered near the road blockade to express frustration. "They are anxious and frustrated. We want people to know that we are working around the clock on this," he said.

Protestors say Six Nations never surrendered the land, but Canada and Ontario say it was surrendered and sold in 1841 to make way for a highway.

With files from Canadian Press

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