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Land dispute unites natives

'We do have a voice and we are exercising our voice'

Liz Monteiro
Waterloo Record
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.]

Kitchener (Jun 21, 2006) -- The ongoing land-claim dispute in Caledonia may be far from over, but in many ways it has already succeeded, local aboriginal leaders say.

Pat Green, program co-ordinator at the Healing of the Seven Generations in Kitchener, said the fight in Caledonia has strengthened the native presence in Canada.

"We do have a voice and we are exercising our voice,'' he said.

"It's about time. Whether it offends or turns people off, that's not our agenda."

Today as many mark National Aboriginal Day, Green says he will celebrate his native history and culture through drumming and dancing.

This year's celebrations mark 10 years since the first commemorations were proclaimed in 1996.

Green, who works in Kitchener, but lives in the Brantford-area First Nation, spent many hours at the heart of the Caledonia dispute.

He went to the area about a week after the first barricades went up on Feb. 28 and has been an active participant since. He took a drum and along with some of his five children, played into the evening.

"Our intent isn't to control the outcome but maintain the process,'' Green said.

Donna Dubie, executive director for the Kitchener agency, said First Nations have a right to exist.

"We are not heathens. We are not terrorists,'' she said.

Last week, barricades came down around the disputed land south of Hamilton but protesters are still on the housing development site.

The provincial government has agreed to buy the land from the developer, Henco Industries Ltd.

A price tag has not been discussed publicly.

The province has said they will hold the land in trust while talks between Six Nations and federal and provincial representatives continue.

But Green said he's wary when government officials suggest the land will be held in trust.

Two months after native protesters took over the disputed land, police attempted to evict them and bring down the barricades but the plan backfired. Instead, a new flood of protesters arrived.

Barricades went up around the area, one on Highway 6 and another blocking a privately owned railway track.

Six arrest warrants are outstanding for natives involved in clashes with members in the community and police. In separate incidents a police officer, two television cameramen and an elderly couple were hurt.

A 45-year-old Victoria woman was charged with intimidation and robbery.

Green, who said he went to Caledonia almost daily, said he heard exchanges and watched as non-natives hurled insults at his people.

"Racism shot out like electricity at Caledonia,'' he said. "The generations of violence were apparent while I was standing there.''

Dubie says there are hundreds of outstanding land-claim issues with Six Nations, dating back to 1784.

Dubie said National Aboriginal Day should be a statutory holiday so that all Canadians can educate themselves about the original peoples of this country.

"June 21 is the beginning of the summer solstice. It's our celebration and it should be celebrated all across Canada and the world,'' she said.

Dubie, a Mohawk from Six Nations, said she is more honoured to be native now than she was 20 years ago.

"I am respectful of myself,'' she said.

National Aboriginal Day

Children's gathering at Victoria Park today from 4 to 7 p.m. Entertainment includes the White Pine Dancers, Ojibway storyteller Aaron Bell and a regalia-making workshop. Free hotdogs for children.

On Sunday, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo will host activities including drumming, dancing, smudging ceremonies, workshops and a silent auction from noon to 5 p.m.

Six Nations resident Darren Thomas will talk about the Caledonia land dispute at about 1 p.m.

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