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Uncertainty leaves town anxious

Removal of one native blockade is tremendous progress, but closed bypass has people frustrated

Matt Kruchak
Hamilton Spectator
(May 25, 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.]

The barricade in Caledonia came down Tuesday but tensions in town haven't totally disappeared. Caledonia residents are upset that the bypass is still closed, but there's a sense of both hope and uncertainty for what the future holds.

Tuesday night was the first time in four weeks that Ernie Bosse slept in his own bed. His family lived with relatives and friends because their home was on the other side of the native blockade. He's staying positive but said his bags are packed in case another blockade is put up, forcing him to leave again.

"I'm hoping things will go back to normal," he said. "We need to keep the peace and go forward."

People are frustrated that the bypass is closed, he said, but sees the removal of the one blockade as tremendous progress. He said the governments need to quickly solve the dispute so he doesn't have to worry about leaving home again.

Only two days ago, Richard Crawford, a native protester, wouldn't have been able to stand where he stood yesterday. He attended a free barbecue in the middle of Zehr's parking lot put on by St. Paul's Anglican Church.

He said tempers have cooled down since the branches, a symbol of peace, were exchanged between the Caledonia and native blockade leaders. He wasn't hassled by anyone all day and didn't expect to be.

"Just a few instigators doesn't represent the town," he said.

Only a few feet from Crawford, Kevin Clark sat on a curb eating his lunch. On Monday, they could have been toe to toe.

Clark was involved in the first fist fight Monday along the Caledonia residents' barricade.

"I'm not proud of what happened on Monday," he said. "I'm not proud of myself for having to defend myself."

His family has been living in the area for nine generations and he wants this incident to be history.

"If the guy was here right now, I'd probably shake his hand," he said. "What we need is a big concert. I'm not talking the Rolling Stones but something to get the harmony back."

Bob Leyland doesn't think the issue can be resolved overnight.

"I don't think you're going to see either side putting their arms around each other anytime soon," he said.

Unlike Crawford, Six Nations resident Nathan MacDonald is staying away from Caledonia for the time being.

"I don't want to go in there and have a confrontation happen," he said, standing in his front yard. "I'd just rather have things cool down."

MacDonald said some of the residents of Caledonia complain that the native blockades are ruining their business, but what they don't realize is how big the Six Nations market is. The people he's talked to are divided on whether or not they'll boycott Caledonia businesses. He said he's going to try boycott on his own.

"There's going to be a lot of tension around here for a long time, it's not all cut and dried."

He said that education would help relieve some of the tension.

"It's a lack of education. Them not knowing what the land means to our native people," he said. "It's not just putting up 10 houses and seeing dollar signs."

Residents of Caledonia and Six Nations reserve have lived side-by-side peacefully for decades but several residents said there's always been an underlying sense of racial tension.

"It's just that the townspeople and the natives have been tolerating each other," Don Reid, a resident of Caledonia said. "There's always been racism on both sides." He's experienced that first hand because one of his parents is white and the other is native.

He said it's peaceful now but if tensions mount, there could be a replay of the scuffle on Monday.

Beverly Crawford felt the effects of discrimination down Highway 6 in Hagersville. He went to purchase a tractor part yesterday from Simington Automotive and Industrial Supply and was told his status card wasn't valid until the blockade on the bypass was gone. Natives show the card to get a tax break. There was a sign in the store on the wall to prove that.

"It's outright discrimination is what it is," he said. "It's always been underlying but we know it's always been there, ever since I've been around,"

He later went back to the store to take a photo of the sign. An employee then took it down and Crawford later received apology.

The manager of Simington admitted the sign was up in the store and one or two other people were denied the use of their status card. The manager wouldn't comment on the matter further.
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