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All quiet on the Caledonia front

John Paul Zronik - Expositor Staff
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Thursday, July 13, 2006 @ 01:00

[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.]

A police raid and violent clashes between natives and Caledonia residents have made headlines since the Six Nations land occupation began more than four months ago.

But the protest site at the southern edge of Caledonia was peaceful Wednesday, one day after natives removed a barricade blocking access to a disputed parcel of land.

“Nice and quiet just how I like it,” the head of Six Nations protest security, who asked to be identified as Kevin, said during an interview.

On Tuesday, natives removed a metal hydro tower that had been blocking vehicle access to the protest site off Argyle Street, at one time slated for the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision. An unknown number of Six Nations protesters continues to occupy the disputed 135-acre parcel of land.

The group began its occupation at the end of February, claiming the land was wrongly taken from Six Nations.

Protest spokesperson Janie Jamieson said natives removed the barricade to show Caledonia residents there is no need to be intimidated by the Six Nations action.

“Our main focus is moving forward with resolving the land issue peacefully,” Jamieson said. “People who want to come to the site in peace ... are welcome.”

Kevin, head of Six Nations protest security, said the barricade had served as security for protesters against threats from outside the camp.

“Tensions are starting to relax,” he said. “With it still sitting there, the barricade was like intimidation. We’re hoping removing it will speed negotiations along.

“It shows that we are showing good faith. But people have to be reminded, the barricades can go back up just as quick. I don’t want to see that.”

The barricade removed Tuesday was the last of four that native protesters had set up in and around Caledonia. The others were on Argyle Street, the town’s Highway 6 bypass and a railway line.

Despite the removal of the final barricade, Caledonia Citizens Alliance spokesperson Ken Hewitt said he isn’t sure the protesters are committed to better relations with town residents.

Hewitt points to a sign erected at Sixth Line and Argyle Street, encouraging people who support the Six Nations protest not to shop in Caledonia.

“To some extent, they’re sending two distinct messages and that’s confusing the people,” he said. “If taking down the barricade was a message, then the message is being missed because of the mixed messages that are being sent.”

Hewitt said tensions have eased in Caledonia during recent weeks, but the community remains on edge.

“Relative to where we were three months ago, certainly tensions have relaxed. But I wouldn’t downplay the feeling of uncertainty that still exists among people in the community.”

A tent and a wooden structure stand at the entrance to the protest site off Argyle Street. Beyond the entrance, protesters are occupying a house constructed before the protest began and continue monitoring the site perimeter.

The entrance to the site is now open to vehicles, but Six Nations representatives question those who want to drive in. On Wednesday, curious local residents drove to the entrance after hearing the native barricade had been removed.

One Caledonia man said town residents are concerned about what will happen to the disputed land if it is handed over to Six Nations. He also said many residents want to put behind them the ill-will generated by the protest.

“I think we should all be getting along,” said the man, who didn’t want to give his name. “I’d like to see us live peacefully and move forward.”

Kevin, the head of Six Nations site security, also wants to see Caledonia residents and the native community living together in peace.

“It’s not the people of Caledonia we’re fighting,” he said. “It’s the government. What wrongs have been done have been done in the past.”

He said the current Six Nations protest has been an inspiration to native groups across Canada, sending the message that peaceful occupation of land can lead to government action. He said spirits remain high among protesters at the site.

“They’re feeling upbeat,” he said. “Morale is still high. Everybody is still in good spirits.”

Protesters recognize that current negotiations with government officials aiming to end the current standoff will take time, said Kevin, adding that those currently occupying land are willing to wait.

How long with the protest continue?

“Until the land is ours, back in our hands," said Kevin. "I’m in the history books now. That’s the way I look at it.”

Hewitt said the Caledonia Citizens Alliance believes Six Nations deserves a fair hearing on their land claims issues and wants the federal government more involved in the process.

“If the outcome of any land claim process ... suggests that it is their land, then we support that outcome,” he said.

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