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Traffic flowing after protesters remove blockade

Canadian Press
National Post
Published: Tuesday, May 16, 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.]

CALEDONIA, Ont. -- Aboriginal protesters camped out on a disputed tract of land in this southwestern Ontario town were letting limited traffic flow Tuesday past a main road that they had blockaded since last month.

The Six Nations members had blocked off the main route through the town of Caledonia after police tried to raid their camp, but said Tuesday they were allowing local traffic to bypass the barricade.

"I imagine a lot of people might still be leery to use these routes, but hopefully that will ease in time," said Six Nations spokeswoman Janie Jamieson. Traffic has been flowing past the barricades without incident, she added.

"It's being offered as a show of good faith," said David Ramsay, Ontario's minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.

"This is very good news to all the communities in the Caledonia area that we're starting to see a gradual return to normalcy."

Local officials issued a news release that said emergency vehicles were being allowed to pass the blockade after having been forced to stop for inspection, said Tom Patterson, deputy mayor of Haldimand County.

Jamieson said the decision to allow traffic to flow past the barricade was intended to help ease tensions between frustrated local residents and the protesters, who took over the disputed land in late February.

Occupiers remain concerned that things could turn ugly, just as they did more than 10 years ago at Ipperwash Provincial Park, where native protester Dudley George was killed by a police sniper in 1995.

"The way discussions were headed was the same route taken at...Ipperwash," Jamieson said.

"We're hoping by trying something different that it may help things proceed in a more peaceful manner."

Protesters say the 40 hectares of land, the site of a planned subdivision a short drive south of Hamilton, is rightfully theirs. They say they offered to lease the property for a road in 1835, and dispute arguments that it was ever sold to the Crown.

Two other blockades along the highway will remain in place for now and Six Nations members will continue to maintain a presence at the site, Jamieson said.

"We'll just wait and see how this goes," she said. "Our safety is our number one issue. If anyone is hurt or threatened, those will go back up in an instant."

Local resident Ken Hewitt, a member of the newly formed Caledonia Citizen's Alliance, said he was not impressed with the move.

"We're looking to see the illegal acts on the road removed and the illegal occupation of the road removed," Hewitt said.

Former Ontario premier David Peterson said he remains optimistic the dispute will be resolved, but would not speculate on when the end would come.

"It's baby steps but it's a sign of good faith," he said. "We're working away. This is not uncomplicated."

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