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Aboriginal protesters remove blockade in Caledonia, Ont. but tensions linger

AM940 Montreal
Posted on May 22, 2006, 12:35 EST

[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. (CP) - Aboriginal protesters removed a contentious blockade Monday that stopped cars from using the main road through Caledonia, Ont., for more than a month but tensions are still running high between demonstrators and residents.

Six Nations members have been occupying a 40-hectare piece of land since Feb. 28, saying it is rightfully theirs. They began blockading the road on April 20 when police attempted to forcibly remove protesters.

Six Nations Confederacy Chief Allen McNaughton said Monday that the barricades have come down as a goodwill gesture now that progress is being made in negotiations. He said the protesters have always acted fairly during the dispute.

"As the world has seen, our protest has been firm but peaceful. Our people are responding without weapons, using only their bodies to assert that we are a sovereign people with a long history and that we cannot be intimidated," he said. "Justice and reason are on our side."

Ontario's Aboriginal Affairs Minster David Ramsay said he was happy to hear negotiations have gone well enough to build trust and end the blockade.

"It's showing what we've been saying for the last couple weeks...a lot of goodwill has been built up and I think we've seen the result of that today," he said.

But tensions were still strong Monday as non-aboriginal residents built their own human barricade on the road and stopped aboriginals from passing through, said the protesters' spokeswoman Janie Jamieson.

"They're instigating, (they're) a bunch of irate radicals," she said.

"What they don't realize is if they continuously threaten our safety, that barricade can go right back up again, so it's entirely their decision," she said.

Former Ontario premier and provincial negotiator David Peterson said he hopeful the whole dispute will soon be resolved peacefully, despite ongoing tensions between the aboriginals and local residents.

He said a huge step forward has been made in negotiations and fighting between both sides at the former blockade site shouldn't be the focus.

"All of us were praying and working hard to try to make sure something ugly didn't develop out of this, like an Oka or a Wounded Knee," Peterson said, referencing previous aboriginal standoffs that ended in violence.

"Hopefully we can get through this in a peaceful way and start a peaceful, meaningful engagement in some of these issues. That is the only solution to this problem."

Six Nations members occupied the site arguing that the land belongs to them. They say they agreed to lease the property for a road in 1835, and dispute arguments that it was later sold to the Crown.

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