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Warrior 'alliance' appears at barrier

Burnt Church veteran on duty

Marissa Nelson
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (May 5, 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.]

The high-profile Mi'kmaq warrior central in the Burnt Church crisis of 2000 appeared with masked men in camouflage at the main barricade here yesterday afternoon.

Standing in front of about a dozen men in fatigues, James Ward said one of his warrior brothers called and asked for support.

"We've been here for over a week, we've just been quiet," Ward said. "We will be here to protect the people...We're not here to be the muscle, we're here to be the brains."

Ward said the "alliance of warrior societies" at the main gate included representatives from seven different First Nations and from five provinces.

Ward is a veteran of the U.S. military and highly educated -- having completed both a bachelor and master's degree. He helped lead the revolt against federal fisheries regulations on the New Brunswick coast.

That dispute involved natives continuing to set lobster traps despite a federal prohibition, sparking violent confrontations with non-native fishermen.

He was also at the centre of another controversy last summer when he and another First Nations man were arrested in a dramatic takedown on a bridge in Vancouver after the men bought rifles and ammunition for an outdoor training program. The men said they were held for an hour before being released.

The men, who had all the appropriate paper work, said at the time they were unfairly targeted by police and that the equipment was for a First Nations outdoor training program.

Ward said yesterday his role at the Douglas Creek site is up to the local community and may only consist of behind-the-scenes work.

"We're here at the disposal of the community," he said. "Usually we're behind the scenes, not in camouflage."

Local representatives for the Six Nations people at the blockade downplayed the presence of the self-described warriors.

Spokesperson Janie Jamieson said there was nothing significant about the appearance. She said many supporters arrived from across the country because they had seen the unity flag -- a red flag with the figure of a man with a feather at the centre.

"They're here for our protection," she said. "They're fulfilling their duty."

Spokesperson Hazel Hill said the men were simply there to see the gate and that warrior is a misnomer -- that all First Nations people are obligated to protect the land. The women are responsible for protecting the land, she said, and the men are responsible for protecting the women.

Ward also said they were only at the front gate so the men could see the lie of the land.

The warrior societies, which all vary, get called into "zones of crisis" to protect the people, the land and the way of life, Ward said. Operations have lasted from three to six months.

Ward would not say how many warriors were there or anything "operational." He said they were there because of concerns for safety at the barricades.

"We don't want them to feel threatened," he said, referring to the other people who have occupied the construction site since February. "We're not here to inflame the situation."

The men only stayed at the front gate for 15 minutes before returning to the sacred fire at the entrance to the building site called Douglas Creek Estates.

Ward's appearance comes just a day before another rally of Caledonia residents is planned for Argyle Street, just in front of the main barricade.

Orange flyers were put on cars in town yesterday announcing the rally at 7 tonight. The piece of paper is only signed "Caledonia Resistance" but it urges residents to "stand up and be noticed."

Sergeant Dave Rektor said he had no comment about the appearance of the men.

"We have a pretty good understanding of who the people are and their functions. Our job is to just be respectful to everyone and maintain law and order," he said. Police will make sure tonight's rally is peaceful, he added.

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