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End Caledonia standoff immediately, councillor urges

Terry Weber
Globe & Mail
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

[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.]

Immediate steps need to be taken to end the aboriginal land-claims standoff in Caledonia, Ont., even if it means bringing in the military to cool the dispute, a local councillor said Tuesday.

Haldimand County councillor Buck Sloat told CTV Newsnet that officials need to step up efforts to bring an end to the situation in the wake of weekend violence that saw fistfights erupt as tensions between non-native residents and protesters, who have been barricading a road to preventing construction on land they say was never given up by their ancestors.

Negotiations had been continuing under former Ontario premier David Peterson to end the standoff. In light of the weekend's events, those talks broke off, and it was unclear Tuesday how quickly they could resume.

Mr. Peterson called the latest turn “heartbreaking.”

Mr. Sloat said Tuesday that the time has come to bring an end to the situation.

“They need to bring in the necessary authorities to end this dispute immediately,” he said. “Whether that be the provincial OPP or whether that be the army, I'm not sure at what level it needs to be brought in but this needs to be ended immediately.”

He also said the long-running dispute had led to a deep rift between the two sides.

“There certainly has been a wedge driven between the two communities, and it's going to take a long time to heal,” Mr. Sloat said.

“It's unfortunate. I was born and raised here. I have a lot of native friends, and I might say I don't believe that this is the opinion of the majority of the native population that live on the Six Nations reserve.

“This is a group of lawless individuals that have taken control.”

Six Nations spokeswoman Hazel Hill, however, said protesters had initially been opening up a road when a group of Caledonia residents – who either were not happy with conditions of the negotiated settlement or other factors – refused to leave. Tensions escalated.

While she acknowledged the frustration faced by residents living in the area of the barricade, she also said protesters are also similarly frustrated.

“Our people have been frustrated for well over a couple hundred years with the situation of our land and resources not being accounted for, we haven't been compensated for it,” she said.

“I do understand their frustration. It's unfortunate that for some reason the Canadian government hasn't made it clear to Caledonia the process and the negotiations taking place.”

During the weekend dispute, a nearby transformer station was seriously damaged by vandalism and fire, knocking out power to 8,000 residents of the area. It was expected to take days to restore full service.

The power outage forced the closing of as many as 17 schools in the surrounding region.

The Six Nations protesters argue that the site was part of a large land grant in 1784. The provincial and federal governments say the land was surrendered in 1841 to help build a major highway.

The protesters have been occupying the occupied site of the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia, Ont., about 25 kilometres south of Hamilton, since early this year.

In April, Ontario Provincial Police staged a pre-dawn raid on the site in an effort to remove the protesters after a court injunction ordered that they disperse. Tensions had been mounting earlier in the week after talks aimed at resolving the dispute broke down.

The police effort ultimately backfired, capturing national media attention.

With a report from Canadian Press

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