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Work ban slapped on protest site

Builders not told of freeze on Douglas Creek Estates

John Burman and Meredith Macleod
Hamilton Spectator
(May 19, 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 Ontario government has imposed an immediate moratorium on development of the Douglas Creek Estates without telling Caledonia builders Don and John Henning.

The brothers found out yesterday about the freeze they never agreed to and immediately filed a protest with the office of David Ramsay, minister for aboriginal affairs.

Lawyer Michael Bruder, who represents Henco Industries, the Hennings' company, said last night the brothers have "a strategy" about what to do if the government does not respond to their concerns about the freeze. He would not elaborate.

The moratorium, a long-standing native condition for negotiations to resolve land claims issues about the site, was imposed Wednesday.

Anne Marie Flanagan, a spokesperson for Ramsay's office, said the Douglas Creek freeze "was part of the discussions (provincial negotiator) David Peterson has been having."

She could not say how long the moratorium would apply.

The development freeze is one of two major moves the Ontario government has made this week to move negotiations on the land dispute forward.

Peterson told the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy Council Wednesday that Ontario is also prepared to return title to the Burtch lands -- a 540-acre parcel and former RCAF base and correctional institute adjacent to Six Nations on the Indian Line north of Hagersville.

The land, which includes 400 acres suitable for farming, three runways and buildings to support the 366-bed minimum security correctional farm that operated there from 1948 to 2002, would be handed over immediately for farming while land rights negotiations continue, he said in a letter to the Haudenosaunee Wednesday.

"It is the intention that the land title be returned to its original state, its status under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784," Peterson said.

"We've got to get the ball rolling and get unstuck," Peterson told The Spectator. "This is one of the things we're talking about. It's a sign of good faith and an opportunity to rebuild some of the trust."

Peterson said the proposal is to give the land over to Six Nations to farm as the talks continue. "If it's not planted in the next 10 days, it will be a lost crop year."

Neither Confederacy Chief and prime native negotiator Allan McNaughton nor protesters' spokesperson Janie Jamieson were available last night for comment.

The moratorium on development of Douglas Creek Estates was revealed in a letter David Ramsay, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, sent to the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy Council Wednesday saying "an immediate moratorium" has been imposed halting any development.

But he did not tell Henco Industries.

They found out when their lawyer found Ramsay's letter posted on a native land reclamation information website.

The ban will stay in effect for a "period of time to be agreed upon by the representatives of the Confederacy, and the Ontario and federal governments.

Ramsay told the Haudenosaunee the government expects "continued progress on removal of the barricades" on roads around the site in order for talks on Douglas Creek and the long-term land grievances to proceed.

Bruder said yesterday Don and John Henning "were not told about a moratorium.

"Obviously, my clients are not happy.

"They never agreed to a moratorium and we have expressed our concerns in writing (yesterday) to the government as to the contents of that letter and we expect to receive a response (today)."

Henco Industries has not been part of the negotiations between Ontario, Canada and the Confederacy about issues surrounding the occupation of the subdivision and blocking Highway 6 and Argyle Street in Caledonia.

Bruder said the provincial government has never explained what a moratorium would mean.

"They have unilaterally imposed that. Whether or not it is legal is another issue. It is unheard of."

Bruder said there are several letters from the Ontario government on the native land reclamation information web site which have never been sent to the Hennings or released to public media.

The website lists a "Compendium of Commitments" dated May 10 between Ontario and the Haudenosaunee council, including:

These letters include one dated May 10 from David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal, confirming the government intended to turn the Burtch lands over to Six Nations

"The provision of the Burtch lands would be taken into account in any future claim settlements," Caplan said.

There is another May 10 letter from Ramsay promising the government will provide money for Six Nations to do an archaeological assessment of Douglas Creek lands. Native protesters have claimed the site is a burial ground and rejected an assessment done for Henco Industries which said there were no bodies buried there.

Another from deputy education minister Ben Levin notes concerns Confederacy has about parts of the Ontario school curriculum.

"I understand Six Nations have expressed a desire to engage with the ministry in more substantive talks and that Mr. Peterson has requested a commitment from the Ministry of Education to participate in such a process," says Levin.

The deputy also said the education ministry is willing to hold talks about the curriculum with the Confederacy and says those would be arranged through the Jane Stewart, the province's special representative to the ongoing negotiations.

The letter does not say what changes the natives want in the Ontario curriculum.

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