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Points of similarities and differences: Caledonia and Ipperwash

Karen Best, Haldimand Review Staff
Haldimand Review
Local News - Thursday, May 18, 2006 @ 09:00

[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.]

IPPERWASH -- In a small valley south of Ipperwash, delicate white and pink blooms are brushstrokes of colour on dwarfed trees and underbrush.

The promise of new life emerging from cold winter parallels the recovery underway in Lambton Shores 11 years after Dudley George was killed. Based on similarities and differences and lessons unheeded, Caledonia’s recovery is likely a shimmering mirage that may take months or years to materialize into a substantial and acceptable resolution for all parties.

In both Ipperwash and Caledonia, First Nations people began asserting land claims through a series of actions. Frustration with government inaction on land claims led to escalation and conflict between non-native and native residents in both communities. As time wore on, the red flag grew and its significance appeared to be lost on non-native officials.

A Toronto based think tank believed that the 1990 Oka crisis sparked militancy in some young Kettle and Stony Point band members near Ipperwash. The Mackenzie Institute, which comments on political instability and promotes debate to safeguard democracy, said natives began to demand access to homes on surrendered and sold reserve lands.

Federal government actions lie behind this claim. In 1942, in the Ipperwash area, the Kettle andStony Point bands, which are Chippewa, were forcibly amalgamated after the Canadian government expropriated the Stony Point Band 2,400 acre reserve north of the Kettle Point reserve. The Department of National Defence converted the territory into an advanced training centre. A promise to return the lands to the Stony Point band was not kept. In 1972, then federal Indian Affairs minister Jean Chretien suggested that the army camp be returned to the band which was growing frustrated with the delay in repatriation.

In 1992, on the 50th anniversary of expropriation, sporadic protest activities began. In April 1992, a group of Chippewa began a two week demonstration at the camp. In May that year, protesters move into the north east corner of the training area.

In the Caledonia case, a series of actions preceded occupation of a construction site. In July 2003, the Six Nations elected band notified a county planner that the 42 hectare parcel was within the Haldimand tract and subject of outstanding land claims. On Oct. 25 2005, natives closed the site and handed out information pamphlets on land claims. Twelve days later, they handed out flyers at Argyle Street South and Highway 6. On Dec. 16, Janie Jamieson and Dawn Smith delivered to Mayor Marie Trainer over 360 letters protesting an electoral boundary change.

At that time, the two women vowed to protest the draft Haldimand County official plan, which will be reviewed by council on May 31. Onondaga Confederacy chief Arnie General stated that his people should mobolize.

This was a direct hint of looming disruption.

On Feb. 28, Jamieson and Smith with other Six Nations people set up camp on the subdivision. The occupation continues four months later. In a March 7 letter to the provincial and federal ministers responsible for First Nations, elected Chief David General said he understood independent action because the community is “growing increasingly frustrated”. This is stemming from lack of tangible progress on claims and increased development in the Grand River Tract. Additions to reserve must be adjacent to or close to the reserve.

Like the Caledonia occupation, the army camp take over had peaceful overtones in the beginning. At Camp Ipperwash, leaders kept the protest confined to the Chippewa to avoid interference by Mohawk warriors or Oneida Peacekeepers. Chippewa chiefs sent a delegation to a meeting of the Six Nations Confederacy council to ask Six Nations to declare Ipperwash off limits to all members of the confederacy. They did so.

By May 1995, Mohawk warriors, peacekeepers and other natives from U.S. and Canada arrived in Ipperwash. Without support from traditional or elected band leaders, the new occupation was without discipline, stated a Mackenzie Institute report. The Six Nations flag flew on an army camp flag pole.

Once charges were issued for contempt of a court order requiring Six Nations citizens to leave the Caledonia subdivision, many natives from other communities joined the occupation. After police arrested 16 protesters on April 20, native anger flared. Fires were set on a street and a highway. Barricades were set up to prevent another police advance. Residents of Caledonia immediately demanded that road blocks be removed.

A significant escalation, the barricades represented entrenched efforts and determination to remain on the land. In Ipperwash, escalation took the form of protesters moving into the Ipperwash Provincial Park on Sept. 4, 1995.

At this juncture, difference in OPP response is apparent. As early as 1993, OPP secured an injunction requiring natives to leave Camp Ipperwash. The department of national defence declined to move on it. Before the provincial park occupation, police already had a master plan in place to contain protesters and to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

On Sept. 5, 1995, an attempt to serve an injunction on natives in the park was unsuccessful. Hours later government officials met with OPP and representatives of premier Mike Harris. Ipperwash Inquiry evidence later showed that Harris wanted the natives out of the park as soon as possible.

On Sept. 6, 1995, 30 OPP riot cops move in on protesters. Police say they were fired on. George was shot and died at 11:09 p.m.. On Sept 7, 1995, after OPP,raid 200 people march from the Kettle and Stony Point reserve to army Camp. On Sept 18, 1995, the OPP Special Investigations Unit collected evidence but found none indicating that natives were armed.

From the beginning, Henco Industry was advised by OPP to seek civil action against Six Nations protesters. OPP did bring in 12 aboriginal officers who were assigned to keeping the peace and negotiating a peaceful resolution of the Caledonia standoff.

OPP did not remove protesters when they moved in on Feb. 28. Henco secured an injunction requiring protesters to leave but OPP did not arrest anyone on March 22 when a contempt of court charge was actionable. OPP asked for clarification in court a week later and arrest warrants were issued but not acted upon for 20 days.

In this time slot, Caledonia moved ahead of events in Ipperwash. The federal government appointed a fact finder in late March and discussions between Six Nations and the governments of Ontario and Canada began in mid April. Discussions were ongoing when OPP arrested 16 on April 20. A federal negotiator was appointed within weeks of the George killing.

In both communities, non-native residents became angry about police inaction on several breaches of law including damage to municipal roads, car thefts, erection of barricades and intimidation. For weeks after George was killed, OPP refused to respond to incidents in the beach community because they were targets. Abandoned by the police, people began to arm themselves, said LaPratte.

In Caledonia, on April 21, OPP officers told residents on Thistlemoor Drive that they were targets while standing by to maintain peace during an impromptu native and town resident meeting.

In Caledonia, resident concerns about police inaction continue as do protests about a double standard of law. Lawyer Ed McCarthy denounced police refusal to uphold a court order and the laws of Canada and Ontario. In Ipperwash, former township mayor Bill Graham pointed out that a double standard in policing and law existed for natives and non-natives.

Lynda Hillman-Rapley, editor of the Lakeshore Advance, said Haldimand County was ahead of the game with aboriginal officers on duty and tri party discussions underway. If the Ipperwash Inquiry had been completed before the Six Nations occupation, findings may have changed the course of events in Caledonia, she said.

In both communities, there was a widespread belief that splinter groups were behind the occupations. As time wore on and police action occurred, broader native support became apparent in Caledonia.

Once native occupations began, municipal council members felt helpless and turned to provincial and federal authorities. Current Lambton Shores Mayor Cam Ivey said the municipality was left out. Meanwhile residents were clamouring for government action. In Haldimand, three county officials were included in occupation discussions and have observer status in current negotiations.

Eleven days after the Ipperwash shooting, area farmers hosted a public meeting. The OPP superintendent and the local MP and MPP attended along with municipal council members. In Haldimand County, such a meeting has yet to occur but would be appreciated by residents. However negotiations are underway to resolve the Caledonia land claim and to remove barricades on a street, highway and rail line.

In both communities, internal disputes or differing opinions among native groups further complicated matters. In Haldimand, federal and provincial officials are dealing with the Six nations band council, the Iroquois Confederacy of Chiefs and the natives on the site. Recently a Confederacy chief talked about barricade removals and people on the site expressed concern about safety if they were removed.

Other interesting points of contact between the two incidents exist. Mohawk Ralph Brant from the Bay of Quinte acted as an official native mediator in Ipperwash. In 1784, Mohawk Joseph Brant led his people to the Haldimand Tract. Jane Stewart was the Ontario minister of Indian Affairs in 1998 and is currently Ontario’s negotiator for the Caledonia land claim.

After 11 years, occupation of the park and army camp in Ipperwash has yet to be resolved. The Ipperwash Inquiry has everyone riled up again, said Hillman-Rapley. The community wants the provincial park back This is an illegal occupation that is keeping tourist dollars out of municipal pockets, she added.

Like others, she is sick of hearing about the need to heal. “I’m not sure what that means. People just got on with their lives,” she said.


About Lambton Shores and Kettle Point

Lambton Shores is a beach and farming community 40 kilometres northwest of Sarnia. A large part of the municipality hugs the shore of Lake Huron. Tourism is the number one industry, followed by agriculture. Visitors enjoy 18 campgrounds and 100s of cottages. Located near Grand Bend, Pinery Provincial Park is one of the province’s most popular campgrounds. Ipperwash Provincial Park is temporarily closed and occupied by First Nations persons.

Lambton Shores is home to 12,000 but swells to 20,000 in the summer.

In 200, the Ontario government amalgamated Arkona, Forest, Grand Bend, Thedford and the Township of Bosanquet, which includes Ipperwash. Lambton Shores is part of County of Lambton.

Kettle and Stony Point Reserve is home to 1,000 and another 1,000 lives off the reserve. The 2,200 acre community is south of and adjacent to Ipperwash. The main employer is band administration. Unique rock formations along the reserve lakeshore draw in tourists.

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