Six Nations Solidarity
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Jessica Leeder and Richard Brennan - Staff Reporters
Jun. 23, 2006. 05:10 AM
[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.]
Amid concerns over lack of police action in Caledonia, the Ontario Provincial Police have turned over part of their policing responsibility on the outskirts of the town to Six Nations officers, the force confirmed yesterday.
OPP officers will no longer respond to calls from non-native home and property owners who live on the 6th Line, a county road running along the southwest border of a housing development occupied by native protestors — a move that has some residents feeling helpless and sick with worry.
"Residents are fully aware. We went door-to-door," OPP spokesman Const. Dennis Harwood told the Toronto Star yesterday.
This is just the latest twist involving the OPP that has many people — including a former OPP officer — questioning what the provincial force is doing. "They can't do that. People pay their taxes for policing by the OPP," said the former senior officer, who asked not to be identified.
Among individuals in Caledonia, there is increasing talk of groups joining to sue the OPP for failing to uphold the law throughout the dispute. Ken Hewitt, a spokesman for the Caledonia Citizens' Alliance, said the "lawsuits are coming ... because the OPP have completely disregarded their contract (with Haldimand County).
"Let's face it. They are scared (of the Six Nations). The government is scared and the OPP are afraid. Up until now everybody has backed down," Hewitt said.
Haldimand County Councillor Craig Ashbaugh was present at a recent meeting in Caledonia — involving the OPP and Six Nations police — where the interim decision was made to pull the OPP back from the 6th Line.
"Protestors objected to the OPP going down the 6th Line in their cruisers. The obvious resolution was to deal with the Six Nations police. That was the compromise solution," he said.
Pressed on whether the solution was amicable for non-native residents of the road, Ashbaugh said: "I think a compromise solution is better than having fear that police vehicles might not arrive at their door if they're in some state of need. The idea is to provide service and protection."
The county council has not passed an official resolution on the matter and there is no expiry date on the policing change.
Residents who live on the north side of the road, with their backyards pressed up against encampments set up by protestors who have occupied a 40-hectare development since February, say they worry police won't respond to any emergency involving native protestors.
Many are retired, and say they feel bullied into silence. Because they come face to face with the dozens of protestors circling the camps each day, the homeowners fear retaliation. "We cannot afford to say anything,' one couple told the Star. They said they have evacuated several times and would move if their home value wasn't "zero."
Meanwhile, the developer who currently owns the land will get $12.3 million in an "interim agreement" with the province to cover the market value of the subdivision land "as is," with more money to come later, said Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay.
"We're looking at all potential damages that they have suffered through this and we're going to negotiate a final price," he told reporters at Queen's Park. That will include acknowledgment of profits the developer would have made after building 600 homes, and other restitution.
Ramsay refused to speculate how much the final tally could be.
The county is now disbursing $1.7 million in provincial money to other local businesses hurt during the standoff. The province is negotiating with homeowners and "trying to understand their losses" with an eye to compensation, Ramsay added. "We're looking at a very comprehensive package here."
Premier Dalton McGuinty called on the Six Nations to abandon the occupation while negotiations continue.
"It would be very helpful if the occupation was to come to an end and the parties understood we remain very much committed to negotiating this at the table,' McGuinty said, adding his government has done what it can "to take the land out of the equation" by negotiating to buy the property. Six Nations representatives are divided over whether to continue the protest and say its end is unlikely. "When the land is returned to the rightful owners...that's when we'll gladly go home,' said Hazel Hill, a spokeswoman for those in favour of the protest.
Chief David General, head of the Six Nations elected council, which is viewed as more of an administrative body on the reserve, said it could help negotiations if protestors vacate the land. "I don't support protests, because they go sideways. This one has very much gone sideways,' he said.
Meanwhile, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ordered key players in the land dispute — including the OPP, and the Ontario and federal governments — to return to court June 29.
"This Court cannot indefinitely tolerate the contempt of the orders of the court that now prevails in Caledonia," Justice David Marshall said in a statement. This is the third time he's ordered parties to court to explain why they haven't followed his three-month-old order to evict protestors from the development.
with files from Rob Ferguson