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Local natives show solidarity

Elisabeth Johns
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2006 @ 10:00

[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.]

Two vehicles that were lit on fire, closing the Seaway International Bridge for several hours late Monday night, demonstrated a community-wide show of support for natives in Caledonia, said a local Mohawk protester.

"We feel for the people that are there," said John Boots.

A road blockade was reopened in Caledonia Tuesday afternoon after tensions between natives and non-natives erupted Monday night. Power was cut by vandals, leaving residents there angry and frustrated. The blockade was taken down Monday, but reinstated after fights broke out between natives and residents.

Boots said the local protesters had considered other tactics to show solidarity.

"I was in favour of blocking one lane of the road on the bridge, but after discussing it with other protesters, we realized it would just inconvenience our own people," he said.

The bridge was closed for a total of two hours in two separate occasions. One closure lasted nearly an hour just after 10 p.m. Monday and the second lasted until some time after midnight.

Each time, a vehicle was set on fire on the International Road on the section of the bridge on Cornwall Island, said Wade Dorland, Operations Manager for the Seaway International Bridge Corporation. Akwesasne Police and Fire responded and Cornwall Police maintained the bridge closures on the city side. Customs officers remained on site.

Boots said his son, Stacey Boots, returned to Caledonia with a group of Mohawks to aid in the Six Nations protest.

Boots said Monday evening a group of local supporters lit a fire and held a tobacco burning ceremony. During this time, they were receiving reports over the phone and Internet about what was going on in Caledonia.

"I knew at the time, it was escalating to something worse," Boots said. His son was already there at the time. "I was on pins and needles. I had a hard night." However, he could not say why cars were lit on fire, only that it was because there were many people frustrated with the situation in Caledonia. "I'm not surprised it happened," he said, noting that natives in Saskatchewan had also blocked a highway Monday afternoon in solidarity.

He said the standoff is reminiscent of the Oka conflict, near Montreal, in the early 1990s over the prospect of building a golf course on disputed land and the Ipperwash protest, which left Aboriginal protester Dudley George dead after a police shooting.

Natives in Caledonia claim the 40-hectare subdivision belongs to them in a historical land-claim after developers were looking to build homes on the disputed area.

The Caledonia occupiers are explicitly not asserting a "land claim." They are simply taking back their land because they state it has been stolen from them by the Crown and they have no faith that it will be returned through a land claim, especially once it has had subdivisions built on it.

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