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Caledonia businesses get emergency grants

Marissa Nelson
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (May 30, 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.]

Haldimand County will start doling out $500,000 today to area businesses on the brink of closing because of the native blockades.

"There's a lot of hurt out there," Mayor Marie Trainer said. "We want these people to stay in business. This will help -- it will tide them over."

Starting at 10 a.m. today, business owners can go to the "local business emergency relief office" at the Haldimand Caledonia Community Centre.

Independently-owned businesses in the Caledonia to Hagersville Highway 6 corridor are eligible for help.

The grants will cover overhead expenses, but don't include claims for loss of business or for the power outage.

Trainer stressed the stopgap measure isn't intended as a long-term solution and also pointed out business owners do not have to sign any sort of waiver that would exclude them from future compensation.

Trainer said as soon as the forms are in with the correct documentation, the cash will be in business owners' pockets.

Steve Miazga, general manager of economic development for the county, said the payouts are expected to run from hundreds to thousands of dollars per business.

The criteria and process are based on the province's experiences during the floods in Peterborough and the tainted water tragedy in Walkerton.

"I expect there may be an initial rush," Miazga said. "Some businesses are in dire straits -- that's what this is all about."

County council was also looking at a $50,000 provincially-funded business recovery plan and $50,000 communication strategy, which is meant to help the region recover.

Miazga said reports of business losses have run as high as 40 per cent. Some owners say their Six Nations customers haven't frequented town, while others reported a decrease in business because of traffic avoiding town.

One business had to battle rumours through the weekend that they had a connection to an outspoken Caledonia resident who has strongly criticized the continuing blockade.

The famous Hewitt's Dairy Bar sent out flyers and flooded Six Nations reserve with advertising to try to convince people they don't have a connection to Ken Hewitt, spokesperson for the Caledonia Citizens' Alliance.

Marie Hewitt joked that Ken Hewitt may be her 42nd cousin -- there are a lot of Hewitts in the region -- but that he certainly has nothing to do with the dairy that has been in operation since 1887.

"We treat everyone the same, no matter who they are," she said. "Our native customers are welcome. They're our friends."

Ken Hewitt didn't seem offended by it all. He stressed that he isn't linked to the dairy. He mentioned when the highway opened that he might take his kids to the dairy for an ice cream and wondered if that started the misconception.

"I'm absolutely not involved in the dairy," he said. "A lot of people will drive down Highway 6 to get ice cream. There was no ill will intended."

He said the business support that will start to flow today is "crucial" for beleaguered businesses.

"This is just a start," he said.

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