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$500,000 aid offered to Caledonia businesses

Canadian Press
CTV News
Updated Thu. May. 25 2006 7:17 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.]

TORONTO -- Businesses that suffered financially because of an aboriginal occupation in southwestern Ontario were promised $500,000 in aid from the Ontario government Thursday.

The money will be made available immediately to local merchants in Caledonia, Ont., who have complained that an aboriginal blockade on the main road through town cost them dearly, said Minister of Economic Development and Trade Joe Cordiano.

"It's going to be provided through the county to the local businesses that are urgently in need of this funding,'' Cordiano said.

The aid agreement was reached during a two-hour closed-door meeting Thursday in Brantford, Ont., between provincial officials and local residents.

Earlier Thursday, Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer said the need to help local merchants was paramount.

"We have businesses that are hurting from 25 to 80 per cent,'' she said.

The month-long blockade was removed earlier this week, but only after confrontations between the Six Nations protesters and Caledonia residents turned violent on the long weekend.

The land dispute began at the end of February when Six Nations members took over a 40-hectare housing development site, claiming the land was wrongly taken from them more than 200 years ago.

Local residents and Six Nations members have asked the federal government to step in and resolve the issue, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has insisted the issue is a provincial matter, and he has no plans to visit the occupation site.

Harper's stance on the issue has been criticized by aboriginal leaders.

"The position that the federal government has taken to date is not acceptable to First Nations,'' Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse said Thursday.

"The issue of land rights and land reclamation is a federal matter.''

Former Ontario premier David Peterson, who is negotiating on behalf of the provincial government, said Thursday that Ottawa has the biggest role to play in Caledonia "by a long shot.''

"I'd love to see the federal government say, `We have to take responsibility,''' Peterson said. "It's not constructive to play ping-pong on this issue.''

Although the provincial government has declared a moratorium on building on the contested land, the protesters have vowed to maintain their occupation until the dispute is resolved.

Local businesses had been demanding compensation from the government for lost profits as the standoff dragged on.

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