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Tensions mount at Caledonia, Ont., blockade

Canadian Press
Globe & Mail
Posted on May 22, 2006, 17:53 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) - Simmering tensions between aboriginal demonstrators and frustrated residents of Caledonia, Ont., came to blows Monday after a contentious blockade was taken down and then reconstructed hours later.

It was thought taking down the barricade would calm tensions, since it had stopped traffic on the town's main road for more than a month.

Former Ontario premier and provincial negotiator David Peterson arrived at the site of the tense standoff Monday afternoon. Peterson had said earlier he hoped the entire dispute would soon be resolved peacefully, despite ongoing tensions between the aboriginals and local residents.

While he believed significant progress had been made in negotiations, Peterson told reporters it was "heartbreaking" to see the sudden turn of events.

"We had very big momentum up until 10 or 11 o'clock this morning and something's happened," Peterson said, referring the reconstruction of the blockade.

"I think we have to appeal to the calmer heads to try to think carefully about the consequence of their actions," he said.

"It's the future of the community and the reputation of the community that's at stake here."

Hundreds of town residents assembled on the other side of the blockade, waving Canadian flags and, at one point, bursting into a spontaneous rendition of O Canada.

Radio station CD 98.9 reported that the Caledonia transformer station is out of service, which is the main source of power for the surrounding Norfolk and Haldimand counties, leaving thousands of area residents in the dark. It is not known whether the outage is related to the standoff.

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

Six Nations Confederacy Chief Allen McNaughton said Monday morning that the barricades came down as a goodwill gesture since progress was 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."

But tensions grew 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.

Early Monday afternoon, the protesters did in fact restore the barricade, and dozens of provincial police officers stepped in to separate the two sides.

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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