Six Nations Solidarity
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CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, June 16, 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.]
CAYUGA, Ont. — The Ontario government has reached a tentative agreement to buy back the plot of land that ignited the Caledonia, Ont. native blockade.
During a court hearing into the dispute, lawyers for the province announced the government had agreed to buy land in Caledonia, occupied by native protesters since February.
Lawyer Donald Brown said the provincial government would buy the property from the developer who was seeking to build more than 600 homes. “The land will be held in trust until the issues of ownership and use are resolved,” he told a hearing before Justice T. David Marshall of Ontario Superior Court. “The ultimate use of the land has not yet been decided.”
Lawyers for both the province and the developer, Henco Industries Limited, said no price has yet been agreed upon for the Douglas Creek Estates property.
However David Ramsay, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, said the two parties have agreed on a price, although he would not disclose the amount.
Henco in the past has estimated its losses in the dispute at $45 million, a figure that would not include the cost of the land upon which it has already built several homes.
The province also announced Friday it would spend $1 million to compensate businesses in Caledonia for losses that arose after native protesters barricaded railroad lines and major roads in the area.
Ramsay defended the cost of the purchase as a worthwhile investment to end the dispute. “We are spending taxpayers’ dollars all the time to settle land claims,” he said.
Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory criticized the secrecy surrounding the land deal. He said the agreement “has all the appearances of a kind of rushed action.”
A small group of native protesters from the Six Nations reserve started occupying the dusty construction project in late February. Two court injunctions ordering protesters off the property were ignored.
After a dawn raid by the OPP on April 20 to arrest those still at the site, hundreds of angry native protesters descended on the land, blocked a rail line, main streets and a bridge in support. Caledonia residents have since held counter protests, attracting hundreds who called on the government to end the blockades.
Police are investigating 25 criminal charges stemming from the dispute, including assault on police, kidnapping, theft, arson and mischief endangering life.