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Aid comes just in time for some Caledonia businesses

Canadian Press
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Wednesday, May 31, 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.]

CALEDONIA - Business owners in this community that is divided by an aboriginal occupation of a housing development began filling out applications for financial relief on Tuesday.

About 400 businesses in the Caledonia and Hagersville area are eligible for some of a $500,000 emergency fund, said Steve Miazga, spokesman for Haldimand County's planning and economic development department.

The owners are required to demonstrate a loss in business for April and May by providing figures comparing their incomes to previous months and their normal monthly costs.

Bill Kirouac said Tuesday he was on the verge of closing his Caledonia autobody shop.

"I was about to fold," Kirouac said. "April was a terrible month because everyone was afraid to come to Caledonia and I have a lot of customers on the reserve who couldn't get in because of the blockade."

He said customers immediately stopped coming to his business the moment news hit that First Nations protesters had begun occupying the development site.

In April, the shop brought in just $600 -- a 90-per-cent drop in business.

George Battle owns Crushed Tomato, a restaurant in a plaza a block from the site of the occupation.

Battle opened the restaurant in September 2005, but had to cut back on hours and estimates he has lost close to 50 per cent of his business since the start of the occupation.

He is hoping to be compensated for the loss of business in both April and May and to return to running hours.

Miazga said the county plans to request more funding if needed.

"It's a start, and if additional funding is required because all the funds have been used, we will apply for more," he said.

24-hour wait

"We are trying to issue cheques within 24 hours of receiving the application," Miazga said. "We are doing the best we can to get relief out as quickly as possible. The funding is meant to address the issue of businesses in dire straits that are facing the possibility of closure very soon."

The grants will cover overhead expenses such as hydro, rent and car leases, but will not include claims for loss of business.

Janie Jamieson, spokeswoman for the occupiers, agreed the government should compensate businesses because, "it is their fault this has happened and they should be accountable."

But Jamieson said businesses on the Six Nations reserve have also been struggling since the occupation and should be compensated.

"Our shops, gas stations and restaurants have had absolutely no outside business," she said.

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