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Police plan heavy presence in Caledonia over weekend

John Burman
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Jun 30, 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.]

Provincial police plan a heavy presence as the town celebrates Canada Day on the weekend.

Acting OPP Superintendent Doug Babbitt said police realize "there is a level of tension arising from the (Douglas Creek Estates) land reclamation issue," and will be there to keep the peace.

Violent clashes between native protesters and town residents at barricades around the site marred the Victoria Day weekend holiday and there are fears of a repeat this weekend.

The police say they are ready if it happens.

"This is a great opportunity to come together, celebrate Canada's rich history and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones," Babbitt said yesterday. "A concerted effort to remain respectful of others and act responsibly will help us achieve this goal together."

The town and its business community have been promoting the Canada Day party for weeks. Caledonia has been stung by the negative image outsiders have of the community.

Traditional celebrations include a street dance outside the fire hall tonight, a big parade through town at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, and music and fireworks over the Grand River.

Barbara Martindale, executive director of the Caledonia Regional Chamber of Commerce, is more concerned about the weather than trouble between residents and protesters.

Martindale said the chamber committee organizing the events has had good feedback from residents and non-residents who are looking forward to a fun weekend.

"We have a good feeling about it," she said. "People need to know it's Canada Day (in Caledonia) as usual."

There are reports a lacrosse game is planned for protesters at the occupied Douglas Creek Estates site tomorrow afternoon to ease fears of any fallout from the celebrations. Attempts to reach representatives of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations protesters for comment were not successful.

The Caledonia Baptist Church on Argyle Street is right in the middle of the land dispute. But pastor Roy Hawkins hasn't let that deter him or his congregation from wading into the middle of it -- armed with ice cream and music.

Hawkins says he's leaving the land disputes to the courts and negotiators. But he's not leaving relations between native and non-native residents to others.

Last weekend, his church held a concert on its property that attracted 400 people, including natives from the building site. Hawkins believes there were even native warriors who came to hear the music and watch the traditional aboriginal dancing. They shook his hand, and thanked him.

"They know I'm a person of peace," he said. "We wanted to say (to the aboriginals) that we love you and we want these issues settled. Let's not allow land or racial differences to come between us."

Hawkins said he isn't worried about the long weekend at all.

"Caledonia people know that peace is better than conflict," he said, adding that he didn't think there'd be another non-native protest like the one on the May long weekend. "I think the majority of Caledonia residents are peace-loving and don't want people out there making fools of themselves."

With files from Marissa Nelson, The Hamilton Spectator

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