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Caledonia talks resume amid tension

Mike Oliveira - Canadian Press
Toronto Star
Jun. 15, 2006. 08:27 PM

[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 (CP) - Talks resumed Thursday in a bid to settle the land-claim stalemate in Caledonia, Ont., but observers close to both aboriginal protesters and local residents fear there could be more violent outbursts if a resolution doesn't come soon.

Premier Dalton McGuinty had called off talks after several confrontations broke out on Friday near the occupied land and warned the protesters had "just about exhausted our goodwill and our patience."

The violent setback was symptomatic of what's been a stressful and exhausting ordeal for everyone involved and tensions could very easily explode again, said Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an instructor in aboriginal studies at the University of Toronto.

The majority of the aboriginal population is under the age of 25 and the potential for another violent incident triggered by frayed nerves is very real, said Wesley-Esquimaux, who keeps in contact with many in the occupied zone and in the community.

"It's very difficult for the elders to keep people in line because they just don't see . . . things changing quickly enough," she said.

"So I'm obviously really concerned about it because I'm afraid it's going to create a further rift in relations between the Canadian public and aboriginals and it's going to be harder to fix."

Local residents are also frustrated by the black cloud that's been hanging over their community for months and want the government to take action.

A group of residents have printed up 300 signs for frustrated homeowners to stick on their front lawns with the message, "Found Waldo . . . Where is Dalton and Gwen? Leadership?" in reference to the premier and Ontario Provincial Police commissioner Gwen Boniface.

"We agree with people of Six Nations that all levels of government must work together expeditiously to address the land claim issues once and for all and to come up with an agreement that is acceptable to Caledonians, Six Nations people and all Canadians," said Robert McMaster, who came up with the idea for the signs.

Residents have made it clear they're frustrated that there's no clear communication from the government and feel out of the loop, said Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory.

"They had to rely on rumours - which are often the worst thing to rely on - and they had to rely on news reports to find out what was going on in their own community," Tory said.

"They found that offensive, that no one really had bothered to communicate with them and tell them what was going on so they'd know the facts."

While returning to talks is obviously good news, few are considering it a major step towards a quick resolution or any happy conclusion at all, she added.

"There have been land claims grievances for the last 400 years, many of which have not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction," Wesley-Esquimaux said.

"So is it realistic to assume this particular one is going to be resolved (soon) when there are (dozens of) outstanding claims that need to be addressed?"

Tory said protesters and residents are united in at least one thing: getting life back to normal.

"I do sense...there's a real determination to heal those scars and so I think it will happen because people want it to happen," he said.

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