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Power transformer near blockade was vandalized News Staff
Updated Mon. May. 22 2006 10:01 PM ET

[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.]

Vandalism and fire at a transformer station caused a blackout in Caledonia and Norfolk, Ont. as aboriginal and non-native protesters clashed on the front lines of a month-long blockade.

Hydro One spokesperson Laura Cooke told CTV News that crews found significant damage to the transformer station and determined that it was caused by vandalism and fire.

Power is slowly being restored in pockets of Norfolk, but due to the extent of the damage in Caledonia, restoration is not expected for about three days.

On Monday morning, aboriginal protesters dismantled a blockade along Caledonia's main road then put it back up again after a confrontation with local non-natives.

The native protesters had removed the blockade on Argyle Street as a Victoria Day gesture of goodwill to help with talks to end the dispute.

But, non-natives then blocked the road themselves, arguing that the natives' gesture was not genuine.

CTV's Scott Laurie, reporting from the scene, said that as tensions rose, there was pushing and shoving. Rocks were thrown. Laurie said it appeared that the native protesters were using parts of a hydro tower in their new barricade.

However, Cooke said that tower wasn't related to the power outages.

Ontario Provincial Police officers had trouble keeping the two sides apart.

While police were on the road between the two blockades, members of the opposing groups ventured off into a nearby field where violence broke out.

"Two melees which involved people coming to blows, fights, pepper spray. Police had to get involved to intervene and separate both sides," Laurie said.

"Some people were bloodied; ambulances showed up to take a couple of people away, some officers were hurt as well."

Police eventually cut off both sides from access to the field.

Due to the situation, Hydro One was initially unable to access the station because of the blockade. In total, 1,500 Caledonia customers have been affected by the outage and another 6,300 in Norfolk are without electricity.

Police officers eventually escorted the crews through blockades so they could restore power.

A state of emergency and a possible curfew are being considered, Tom Patterson, deputy mayor of Haldimand County, told CTV Newsnet on Monday.

"That's possible," Patterson said. "We have an emergency plan in place for things like this so we're going to be looking at that."

Non-native locals are upset because they believe that the natives are dictating how the dispute will be resolved, Laurie reported.

The natives are angry over the development of land they claim was taken from them around the 1840s. The group has occupied the construction site since Feb. 28. The blockade went up on Apr.20.

Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Ramsay said Friday that construction on the disputed 40-hectare plot would remain on hold.

Caledonia is about 14 kilometres southwest of Hamilton and is very close to the Six Nations reserve.

Former Ontario premier David Peterson, who is involved in negotiating an end to the dispute, said he hoped the situation could be resolved peacefully.

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

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

Despite the fighting, Peterson said officials were still trying to prevent it from escalating further.

"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."

With reports from CTV's Scott Laurie and Lia Rosekat

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