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Caledonia blockade coming down on Monday, reporter says

CBC News:
Last Updated Sun, 21 May 2006 12:46:03 EDT

[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 aboriginal blockade in the southern Ontario town of Caledonia will be lifted on Monday, Linda Powless, a reporter with the aboriginal paper Turtle Island News, told CBC Newsworld on Sunday.

The Six Nations demonstrators agreed Saturday night to open the road, she said. They put up the blockade in late February to protest the construction of housing on land they say they own.

The province has agreed to a moratorium on development on the 218-hectare site, Powless said. Former premier David Peterson, appointed a mediator, had earlier indicated that a deal involving the land was possible.

"The province has also met the other demands, that were to pay for an archeological survey of the site which is very important because they do believe there may be a burial ground on the site," Powless added.

"There's been some major concerns about safety that they feel they've addressed."

Powless said it was necessary for both sides to compromise to avoid escalating the situation. "I think that this is a very important move on the part of the province because, let's remember, the province of Ontario is very new to native issues. This has always been federal territory."

She also said the federal government had met with the confederacy council for the first time. The council is the traditional government of the Six Nations, "which the majority of the people in this community support," she said.

Government must compensate company, lawyer says

The lawyer for Henco Industries, the developer that has always claimed it holds legal title to the disputed land, reacted bitterly to the proposed deal on Saturday.

Mark Bruder said his clients were not informed by the provincial government about the moratorium. Now the  government will have to to buy back the land at fair market value, including Henco's potential profit, he said.

There was a report in late April that the province was willing to compensate the company.

Henco had started construction on the first of what it hoped would be 240 homes on 40 hectares when the protesters occupied the site. They came from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory reserve near Brantford.

The demonstrators say the 380,000-hectare Haldimand Tract along the region's Grand River was granted to them in 1784. The province originally said aboriginals gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new road, an agreement the Six Nations say was only meant to be a lease.

Six Nations filed a land claim over the area in 1999.

There have been rallies with racial overtones by white demonstrators angry about the blockade, but on Friday one of the leaders of the rally, Jim Smith, talked to First Nations protesters and "left there as a friend," Powless said.

Caledonia is about 20 kilometres from Hamilton.

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