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Caledonia buffer zone created to ease tensions

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
Caledonia (Jul 14, 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.]

Natives occupying Douglas Creek Estates have put up a buffer zone between themselves and a string of houses in a neighbouring subdivision.

It's one of the ways the natives are trying to ease tensions with Caledonia residents after weeks of acrimony over the occupation, barricades, fisticuffs and jeering rallies.

The barricades are down, the province has bought the site off the developers and the natives are negotiating with provincial and federal officials to try to end the four-month standoff. But some Caledonia residents -- most notably those on neighbouring Thistlemoor Drive -- still worry about their safety.

The Spectator was invited Wednesday afternoon for an hour tour with Hazel Hill, a spokesperson for the Six Nations Reclamation site. Hill accompanied two Spectator reporters on a drive through the property to try to demonstrate Caledonia residents have nothing to fear from the continued occupation.

One of the things she pointed out was a buffer zone established along the northern boundary of the property, behind Thistlemoor Drive. She said, in co-operation with the OPP, a yellow police tape was strung from Argyle Street to the rail line on the western boundary. The tape is about four metres from the Thistlemoor property lines.

Hill also said ATVs driving behind the homes have been reduced to resolve residents' concerns.

"That was at our request to ease the Caledonia people's mind," said Hill about the buffer zone. "The police can patrol there ... so that the Caledonia people can feel at ease. We worked with the OPP and suggested this was a way to deal with it."

The site is a study in contrast from what it was on April 27, when protesters invited area media for a tour a week after a failed OPP raid. That evening it was a hive of activity and there may have been 100 people behind the Argyle Street barricade.

On Wednesday, the site appeared almost deserted. It was hard to determine how many were on the site, but maybe 25 at various encampments.

People entering the site off Argyle Street are not greeted by a heavy metal barricade anymore -- a piece of a hydro tower -- but something akin to a flimsy wooden toll booth.

"We can't get any quieter than we are," said Hill. "We've got nothing to hide. We're here in peace."

Some Caledonia residents have complained of bunkers being built on the site. There was one mound of earth on one street, but Hill said that was a foundation dug by the developer. Concern has also been raised about one home with a long, open, wooden slat clearly visible on its second storey. Hill said that was on the house when natives reclaimed the land Feb. 28.

Hill showed reporters the protesters are now occupying some of the 10 homes on the site.

Trucks and cars are parked in some of the driveways, and at one home a pool was built using a plastic tarp and earth mounds. Only one home was completed -- a model home built by the developers -- but Hill said protesters finished the roof of one home to protect it from the elements. The model home now contains food provisions and is used by site security. Two cookhouses built by the natives now sit beside the house.

Hill, however, would not take the reporters inside the home, citing security reasons. She didn't see anything wrong with that and noted negotiators Jane Stewart and Barbara McDougall were not permitted inside the homes during a recent tour.

"You have to understand that when people come in that aren't from Six Nations or are not well-known ... there's that security factor. Whether we like it or not, we are being labelled as criminals for our action here. It's more to protect our people, our security."

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