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A dad reflects as tension subsides

Children saw his scuffle on the front page of the local paper

Jessica Leeder - Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
May 24, 2006. 01:00 AM

[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.]

In a surprise development, Six Nations protesters dismantled a barricade in Caledonia yesterday, a day after a riot between local residents and the natives. The Star looks at the controversy through the eyes of an affected member on each side of the issue.

CALEDONIA—When the local paper landed on the Imer Brahimir's breakfast table yesterday morning, the father of two young boys found himself with a lot of explaining to do.

A photograph, splashed five columns across the front page, showed the Canada Post worker enveloped in a tight fistfight with a native protester, and his sons recognized their father's profile instantly, he said.

The scuffle was part of a violent clash that erupted between townspeople and Six Nations protesters Monday, when some Caledonia residents — letting out lingering anger over a month-long blockade of their busiest road — decided to give protesters a taste of their own medicine.

A group of local residents, including Brahimir, constructed their own blockade on Argyle Street — after the natives took theirs down — to keep protestors and visitors to the reserve from entering town. When some Six Nations members retaliated by using a backhoe to dig a hole in the centre of the highway on their side of the blockade, tempers went into overdrive. That's when the yelling began, and fist fights broke out. When Brahimir set about explaining the mess to his sons, he found himself lacking in easy answers for the boys, aged eight and 10.

"There is a scar running up the centre of this town," he said in an interview from the blockade site yesterday.

"Civil responsibility means we've got to be here. This is a pull you've never felt in your entire life. There's a reason to be here."

In retrospect, Brahimir said he didn't consider the consequences of his actions enough before the punches began to fly (he wasn't charged). "I'm not proud of it," he said, a cigarette hanging loosely from his lips.

But Brahimir said he's spent much time shouldering the heavy weight recent events have wrought on his life — and those of future generations.

"The racism card is out now. We're 100 years back," he said, adding that he fears tension between white area residents and natives will create a racial divide that will define the community in years to come.

In Brahimir's mind, the town's future stands in ruins. He said he blames lawmakers for not dealing with the land claim dispute before it blew up.

"The magnitude of this is beyond imagination," he said, gesturing to the massive gap in the highway near the barricade. "This could have been taken care of six to eight months ago. There's a right way and a wrong way to do this — they (protestors) should go to the proper arbitrator and say let's make a deal.

"But to allow this much damage to happen in front of your face — there is no law. That's what's been done here."

To Brahimir's surprise, the barricade was down by dinnertime yesterday. He said the road opening was only a small sign of progress.

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