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Calm returns to blockade after night of violence

Canadian Press
Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2006

CALEDONIA, Ont. -- A night of sporadic violence in the long-running aboriginal blockade near Hamilton gave way to a peaceful morning Tuesday.

There was little activity at the barricades in Caledonia, Ont., early in the day, but there was an additional irritant for residents of the area as a power outage hit the region Monday and left thousands in darkness.

Hydro One spokeswoman Laura Cooke blamed vandalism to the local power transformer for the outage and said it will likely be days before full service is restored.

The power outage has forced school boards serving Caledonia, Simcoe and Waterdown to close 17 schools.

Violence erupted at the protest site Monday as non-aboriginal area residents, frustrated by a roadblock, lashed out.

Aboriginal protesters had briefly dismantled a barricade, but it was quickly restored as anger erupted on both sides.

Provincial negotiator David Peterson, a former Ontario premier, said it was "heartbreaking" to see the sudden turn of events Monday after a positive round of negotiations that he had hoped would bring about a peaceful resolution.

Aboriginal demonstrators began blockading a road on April 20 when police attempted to forcibly remove protesters who have been occupying a 40-hectare piece of land since Feb. 28.

The Six Nations protesters say a new development in the area is being built on land stolen from them more than 200 years ago. Six Nations concede they agreed to lease the property for a road in 1835, but dispute arguments that it was later sold to the Crown.

Ken Hewitt of the Caledonia Citizens Alliance said Tuesday government action was wanted.

"What they're (residents) looking for is definitive action from the government. They want to these lawless people off the road..."

Talks were to resume Tuesday to end the dispute.

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