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Haldimand Mayor blames natives for damaging power station

Susan Gamble - Expositor Staff
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Saturday, May 27, 2006 @ 01:00

[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.]

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer says natives are responsible for damaging the power station that could have cost lives in Caledonia, Six Nations or Simcoe.

A native protest spokesperson says direction for the act didn’t come from their people and could have been caused by anyone.

The damage was done Monday when a fracas between native protesters and some Caledonia residents broke out at the main barricade, far from the power station location at a secondary barricade.

“It was definitely natives,” Trainer said Friday.

“Several of them were bragging about it in conversations with residents. They said if they were angry enough, they could take the power.”

But Trainer said she’s not laying the blame for the vandalism at the feet of the protesters in general.

“I’m not painting everybody with the same brush, for sure. A lot of natives are not happy about this at all,” she said. “They feel they are all being made to look bad and that it’s damaging good relationship they have with people.”

Earlier this week, Norfolk Power’s manager of energy services told the Simcoe Reformer the damage to the power station was caused by natives.

But Friday, Bill Dodds was somewhat embarrassed by his own comments.

“I probably would not have said that if I had thought about it. Everybody assumes it was the natives but I made the error of saying it. There’s no evidence it was natives at this point.”

Behind the barricades, protest spokesperson Hazel Hill said people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the vandalism.

“When it happened, all of our people were at the front lines -- at the main barricade,” said Hill. “The only ones at that (secondary) barricade were the OPP.”

Hill also pointed out that intruders have been caught filtering through the native protest encampment at various times and the damage could have come from one of them.

“It affected our people too, you know,” Hill said. “Half the reserve was without power.”

Decisions about action and the protest plans take place daily around the sacred fire on the site. Once at the front of the property near the entrance to Douglas Creek Estates, the fire has since been moved further back.

Ideas are discussed there and taken to the clan mothers for approval and direction.

Taking out the power station wasn’t an idea that came from the fire or the direction of leaders, said Hill.

But, she added, if an investigation turns up the fact that native protest participants did do the damage, those responsible won’t necessarily be turned over to police.

“Canadian laws don’t apply to our people and we can’t surrender our people to foreign laws.

“If we find out who did it, they would have to be accountable to our people.”

Meanwhile, damage estimates to the power station -- at first thought to be in the neighbourhood of $1.5 million, may be higher than that.

Trainer said she thinks the costs will hit around $2 million. Fortunately, both the main transformer and its backup can be repaired, she said, or the cost would have been closer to $15 million.

A low voltage switch gear still needs to be replaced in the station.

The crime unit of the Haldimand County OPP is looking into the vandalism but -- as with any investigation -- won’t comment about the possibility of charges.

Behind the barricades Friday afternoon, the mood was much more pleasant than it’s been of late, said Hill.

“We’re kind of back to where things were before. People are honking as they go by and stopping to talk or drop off coffees. It feels good and positive and peaceful again.”

Haldimand-Norfolk MP Diane Finley stopped to chat with Trainer in Cayuga.

The mayor said discussions Friday were about how the financial aid promised by the province would be divided.

The $500,000 is meant to assist businesses in danger of closing because of the protest.

Applications for assistance can be picked up at the Caledonia community centre starting on May 30 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The eligible businesses are those that are independently owned and operated and that have a PST, GST or business registration number.

Documentation of rent or mortgage payments, utility costs, equipment rentals and insurance will be required to show a business is near to closing.

The county isn’t taking claims for any losses due to the power outage at this time.

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