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Residents fire back at Ontario's Caledonia plan

April Lindgren - CanWest News Service
Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, June 21, 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.]

TORONTO — The Ontario government should not give property it is purchasing from a developer in Caledonia, Ont., to the aboriginal group that is laying claim to it, a spokesman for local non-native residents said Wednesday.

“At this point, we want (the land) held in a way that does not allow the ownership to be transferred either to Haldimand County or to the Six Nations Community,” Ken Hewitt of the Caledonia Citizens’ Alliance told reporters. “The people in good faith have bought in Caledonia with the idea that there would be specific development that would happen in the neighborhood. If it was transferred to the Six Nations community, there’s certainly no assurances that that land ... would be developed in that fashion.”

Hewitt said that ideally the disputed land should be put into trust until representatives of the Six Nations and Caledonia residents can agree that it be used for a medical clinic, a community centre, a park or something else “that would benefit the communities, but not harm the property values or harm the communities on either side.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced last week that the provincial government would buy the land that makes up the Douglas Creek Estates housing development in a bid to put an end to a 3 1/2 month occupation by native protesters.

Residents of Caledonia came to Toronto on Wednesday to protest an occupation that they say has been increasingly intimidating. They met for the first time with McGuinty and spent about 25 minutes describing what they say has been a frightening experience  that has thrown into question the value of their properties.

“I listened,” McGuinty told reporters later. “I talked about what we’ve done so far and I just heard them out. There was no intention that on the basis of a brief meeting that I make specific commitments.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Ramsay said that once the disputed land is purchased, it will be put into trust and then be subject to a formal land claims process.

“It’s very difficult to prejudge how a land claim will be finalized,” he warned.

The government has refused to say how much it is spending to acquire the land and Ramsay wouldn’t comment on Conservative Leader John Tory’s suggestion that the land purchase, the police presence and other costs associated with the dispute will be as much as $100 million.

“If that’s the wrong number, then let the minister tell us what the right number is,” Tory told reporters. He described the government’s attempt to settle the dispute through the purchase of the land as “a potentially dangerous precedent ... are we going to do this over and over again?”

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