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Natives deny blockade timeline

Dana Borcea
Hamilton Spectator
(May 15, 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.]

Native organizers at the Caledonia blockade spent much of the weekend in back-to-back meetings trying to win a consensus among Six Nations protesters about a proposed timeline for taking down a controversial barricade.

Last night, spokesperson Janie Jamieson said a native leader's comments on Friday that barricades may come down within a week were premature.

"That was never discussed or agreed to by the people. But it has generated discussion."

She added the only barricade up for debate at this point is the Argyle Street South checkpoint that blocks a stretch of roadway running through Caledonia.

The road runs through a contested 40-hectare tract of land being developed into a subdivision by Henco Industries.

Protesters said yesterday that if the barricade does come down, they would still maintain their presence on the land.

Clearing the other two barriers across the Highway 6 bypass and the Southern Ontario Railway line, which serves the nearby Nanticoke industrial area, is not being discussed at this time, added Jamieson.

On Friday, Confederacy Chief Allen MacNaughton, who met with provincial negotiator and former Ontario premier David Peterson, told reporters they were close to reaching a "peaceful resolution" and he expected to see the barricades come down in about a week.

He added protesters would first have to have their safety ensured and see charges against them dropped. Another condition was that further development on the land be stopped immediately. But coming to an agreement among the Six Nations residents affected, including about 100 protesters and thousands of residents, is proving tricky.

Round-the-clock meetings among chiefs, clan mothers and the general Six Nations population had not yet resulted in a decision about whether to support the proposed timeline for taking down the Argyle barricade as of late last night.

Earlier yesterday, Clyde Powless said if they couldn't get a consensus, they were hoping for "a good majority."

It is not a decision they want to enter into lightly, he added.

"Once the blockades come down, we don't want them coming back up. One irresponsible person could jeopardize the barricades staying down."

That kind of sabotage could erupt on either side of the barricade, he pointed out.

One protester mentioned taking down the blockade would be "a sign of good faith."

He said the fact that representatives from the provincial government were negotiating with traditional chiefs like MacNaughton was extremely significant.

The Canadian government has historically only negotiated with an elected band council, established in 1924 under the Indian Act, a body that many on the reserve refuse to recognize.

"We can't block the road continuously," said the Mohawk warrior who would only identify himself as Kevin. "We have to give them something. If we don't open this up soon, we risk losing whatever we've won so far."

Despite hopes for a possible breakthrough, the friction between protesters and Caledonia and area residents that has flared up in recent weeks promises to continue after the blockades come down.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer says the occupation "has put a wedge" between the natives and area residents.

She fears that strain will linger long after the barriers are removed.

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