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Natives give 'good faith' pledge over barricade

All emergency vehicles, except police cruisers, assured of free passage at Argyle Street

Paul Legall
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (May 17, 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.]

All emergency vehicles -- except for Ontario Provincial Police cruisers -- have been assured of free passage through the Argyle Street barricade as a gesture of "good faith" by native protesters.

Native spokesperson Clyde Powless said the route through Argyle Street South to Highway 6 has never been closed to emergency vehicles going to the Hagersville hospital.

But native protesters have been stopping -- and sometimes searching -- all other cars and trucks since the barricade was erected April 20.

Powless said ambulances have been using a longer route to the hospital because they assumed they couldn't get through the barricade.

"It was an oversight on our part ... we didn't mean any malice. It's regrettable it happened," he told reporters yesterday.

He apologized for the confusion and inconvenience, adding the protesters want to stay on "good terms" with the community.

Argyle Street South passes along the west border of Douglas Creek Estates, which native protesters have been occupying since Feb. 28.

They claim the 40-hectare tract, which has 10 houses in various stages of construction, was never surrendered to non-natives.

On April 20, the protesters expanded the occupation area by erecting barriers and military-style checkpoints on surrounding roads.

They closed off the Highway 6 bypass around Caledonia and established the Argyle Street South barricade about 200 metres from the entrance of Douglas Creek Estates.

With as many as 100 people occupying the site, protesters say they need the barriers to protect themselves from the townspeople, who are becoming increasingly frustrated and angry.

Last week, Six Nations Confederacy Chief Allen MacNaughton -- after meeting with negotiator David Peterson, the former Ontario premier -- announced the barricade could be coming down as early as this Friday.

He indicated the removal of the barricade was the first step toward a peaceful resolution of the 78-day standoff.

Protesters are considering opening Argyle Street South to all traffic, pressing the federal and provincial government on four demands:

"This has never been about pitting Six Nations people against Caledonia residents," native spokesperson Hazel Hill said in a press release.

"This is about Six Nations land rights and the long outstanding accounting of Six Nations trust funds that were under the trust of the federal Crown but have disappeared over the years."

Hill said emergency vehicles were being allowed through the occupied area as "a show of good faith to Caledonia residents."

But this gambit is giving scant satisfaction to businessman Ken Hewitt, who represents a newly-formed group called the Caledonia Citizens Alliance.

He said members consider the occupation of Douglas Creek Estates to be illegal and want the protesters to leave right away.

He argued they have no reason to be there now that federal negotiators have been appointed to hear their claims and expedite a resolution to the dispute.

Nor would he countenance dropping criminal charges against protesters who were arrested on the site for contempt of court.

"Their conditions are ridiculous," Hewitt said in a telephone interview.

"You knowingly break the law and ask for amnesty afterward ... only in Canada."

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