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Police review looms in Haldimand

Residents lobby councillors for municipal police force

Monte Sonnenberg
Simcoe Reformer
Tuesday June 27, 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 - The future of the OPP in Haldimand is unclear thanks to the native standoff in Caledonia.

Yesterday, two members of Haldimand council said many are eager to see the county establish its own force because of the OPP’s performance in Caledonia since Feb. 28.

“The perception is very negative,” Caledonia Coun. Craig Ashbaugh said during a press conference in Cayuga. “It’s been very difficult for the OPP who live and work in our community.”

Some have criticized the OPP for showing too much restraint. The force has said repeatedly that its goal is to keep the peace in Caledonia while officials from all sides work toward a negotiated settlement of outstanding land claims. Some say the OPP’s strategy requires the force to turn a blind eye to violence and lawlessness.

“People have told me they are prepared to pay more on their taxes to have their own police force,” said Springvale Coun. Tom Patterson, council’s designated spokesperson on the Caledonia file. “I don’t see that happening for a few years.”

Haldimand’s contract with the OPP expires in September 2008. However, the county can terminate it with 12 months’ notice.

“That’s a little way off,” county CAO Bill Pearce said. “I think we would look at all options just as we would when any contract comes due.”

The OPP came in for renewed criticism last week when it transferred responsibility for patrolling the Sixth Line southwest of Caledonia to the Six Nations Police. The area, which has nearly 10 households, is located in Haldimand beside the Six Nations reserve. It is near the 100-acre Douglas Creek Estate subdivision in Caledonia that Six Nations has laid claim to.

Ashbaugh said Six Nations Police have been asked to patrol the area because protesters at the Douglas Creek Estates don’t want OPP cruisers near their encampment.

Patterson, Ashbaugh and Pearce held yesterday’s conference to update the community on the current state of the standoff. Natives continue to occupy the disputed subdivision, which the province is attempting to buy. All other barricades have come down.

Ashbaugh was reminded yesterday that Six Nations has purchased several farms on the west side of Highway 6 in recent years and folded them into the reserve. Most of this land, which was originally located in Haldimand, is in the area of Hagersville.

Ashbaugh says these transactions are significant because they show that Six Nations has changed its thinking on “disputed” territory in recent years. Today, Six Nations maintains the reserve never surrendered title to land that the province purchased in the 1840s for construction of the Hamilton Plank Road (Highway 6).

“If they really believed what they’re saying today, you’d think they wouldn’t have paid for this land in the past,” Ashbaugh said. “I find that, personally, to be contradictory.”

Meanwhile, attempts at reconciliation continue. Sunday evening, 300 natives and non-natives participated in a religious service at Douglas Creek Estates. Caledonia Baptist Church sponsored the event. The service featured native dancing and drumming. Activists occupying the disputed subdivision joined in and mingled with the crowd.

While efforts are underway to pacify the situation, Patterson and Ashbaugh caution that tensions remain high. They said all efforts must be made to arrive at a long-term solution as quickly as possible.

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