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Ontario buys land at centre of Caledonia dispute

CTV News Staff
Updated Fri. Jun. 16 2006 11:38 PM ET

[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.]

The Ontario government has made a deal to buy out a developer whose land has been occupied by Six Nations protesters in Caledonia, moving both sides closer towards a possible resolution of the months-old dispute.

In addition, the province pledged $1 million to compensate businesses hit hard by the ongoing dispute, bringing the total to $1.7 million.

The developments were announced Friday in an Ontario Superior Court hearing in Cayuga, Ont. by Dennis Brown, the lawyer representing the province.

"In his submission this morning, he announced Henco (Industries) the developer, and the province of Ontario have come to an agreement in principle for the purchase of the land," said CTV's Denelle Balfour in Cayuga.

"So the province is going to purchase Douglas Creek Estates, the contested area, and the development will come to a halt."

Under the agreement the province will hold the property in trust while discussions continue about who owns it.

There is no word on how much the province has agreed to pay for the property.

"That title and jurisdiction isn't placed back with Six Nations, is it? And that's what the issue is," Six Nations spokesperson Janie Jamieson said.

She said their next step is to "keep on hoping" that the government would move to resolve the land dispute.

"They haven't begun to resolve anything with us, but as far as corporate Canada, they've done everything to appease them," Jamieson said.

By late morning about two dozen lawyers were hammering out the details of the agreement in the courthouse, while protesters continued to occupy the site, Balfour said.

"The development will come to a halt. The roadblocks are down, but the native protesters are still on the property and there was no information in court as to whether or not that occupation will end."

Ontario's minister responsible for aboriginal affairs would not disclose the value of the deal. David Ramsay cited Henco's concerns about proprietary information.

Jamieson suspects the deal is worth several million dollars.

Ramsay believes the deal will ease some of the tension being experience in Caledonia, where violence has flared including assaults and the alleged attempted murder of a police officer.

He added that the deal to buy the land eliminates one player in the complex negotiations.

"What we're trying to do with arrangements like this is to cool the temperature so that we can get some long-term decision-making at that negotiating table done," Ramsay said.

"This continues to be a flashpoint. So we're trying to cool the temperature in the community and around the table so that we can get constructive dialogue going."

No decision has been made on who will eventually take possession of the land.

"It will be up to the long-term negotiating table to basically work out what the final disposition would be of that land."

Ken Hewitt, who has acted as a spokesperson for the Caledonia Citizens' Alliance, said the announcements are a step in the right direction.

"We're hoping that with today's events we can now get the protesters to remove themselves form the land and take it to the boardroom where it belongs," Hewitt said, noting some residents still fear for their safety, and the healing process will take some time.

"I believe the long term residents of Six Nations and the long term residents of Caledonia who have developed long relationships as well as families together, can supersede what we've seen in the last couple of weeks and we can find a way to make it work."

The key players in the simmering land dispute were back in court to explain why a judge's ruling that ordered them off the land they have occupied since February was ignored.

The decision was issued in March by Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall.

So far, they've stayed put, and in recent weeks the standoff with police and local non-native Caledonia residents has become tense.

Earlier in June, Marshall ordered a hearing into why the court injunction hadn't been followed, and heard suggestions about how to resolve the impasse.

He adjourned the hearing until Friday, so that he could get in touch with the federal Indian Affairs Minister and the attorney general of Canada.

Aboriginal representatives -- who have continually maintained that they are subject only to their own laws -- were notably absent from the proceedings.


Meanwhile, police have arrested one of seven people wanted on warrants after a series of clashes last Friday at the site of the blockade

Audra Ann Taillefer, 45, of Victoria, has been charged with intimidation and robbery after an elderly couple's vehicle was surrounded by protesters.

Simcoe, Ont. residents Kathe and Guenter Golke were driving by the site when their vehicle was surrounded by angry protesters who jumped on the car's hood and banged on the windows.

The elderly man, who suffers from a heart condition, was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution. Two Hamilton TV news cameramen were also injured in a scuffle with angry protesters that day. Riot police had to be called in to keep the two sides apart. One of the victims needed stitches to close a head wound.

Taillefer will appear in a Cayuga, Ont. court on an unspecified date.

Negotiations resume

Separate negotiations to end the dispute resumed on Thursday after being put on hold Monday by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

He called off the talks after tempers boiled over following allegations that natives had attacked the two camera operators and confiscated their tape.

Those negotiations will continue Friday with a conference call between provincial and federal negotiators, and Six Nations representatives.

The protesters are trying to prevent construction of a housing development on land they claim as their own and have vowed to stay on the site until there is a resolution to the dispute.

Protesters argue that the site of the Douglas Creek Estates housing project was part of a large land grant in 1784, but the provincial and federal governments insist the land was surrendered in 1841 to help build a new highway.

With files from The Canadian Press

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