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December 16, 2006

Rally organizer arrested in Caledonia, Ontario

Rally organizer arrested in Caledonia, Ontario

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

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Two men were arrested today by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) at a Caledonia rally at about 12:00 p.m. ET after entering the disputed land in Caledonia, Ontario waving Canadian flags. One was Gary McHale, a Richmond Hill, Ontario man who entered the occupied land in Caledonia, Ontario to organize a rally against the ongoing aboriginal occupation. Mark Vandermaas of London, Ontario was also arrested. Vandermaas was forced to the ground by police officers, who ripped the flag out of his hand when he crossed the police line. There were approximately 100 protesters rallying with McHale.

According to news reports, McHale intended to put the Canadian flag across the street from DCE (Douglas Creek Estates) where the aboriginal occupation has been ongoing for 10 months. Back in late October the aboriginals had already put up their flags across from the DCE property and the OPP made no attempt to stop them. However, on Dec. 2 residents of Caledonia attempted to put up Canadian flags with Yellow ribbons in various areas in Caledonia. When they tried to put up a Canadian Flag across from DCE property the OPP sent in 100 officers to stop them.

Mr. McHale called for people to gather on Dec. 16 to try to put up Canadian Flags across from DCE property on the same hydro poles that Natives already had put up their flags. Mr. McHale stated, “I have asked 2 dozen OPP officers why it is legal to have a Native Flag up along the highway but illegal for a Canadian Flag to be up and I have never received an answer.”

“The OPP set up a line just about a hundred yards away from that site and several people were able to cross that line. They got through a farmer’s field on far left side of where I’m standing here,” said CTV reporter Joel Bowey. “We’re hearing that Mr. McHale got in the middle of the street and put a flag down there, and that’s when he and the other man from London, Ont. were arrested. So far all we know is that those two men have been arrested and there are no other arrests at this point.”

The OPP said the men were arrested for “breaking the peace” and noted that it is not a criminal offence. Police had warned them about crossing into the disputed land before.

“I’ve now said that Mr. McHale’s plans were counterproductive and potentially dangerous to what we’ve been trying to do there, and that is to reach a peaceful settlement,” said David Ramsay, Ontario’s minister of aboriginal affairs. “I’ve twice now offered Mr. McHale the opportunity to protest at Queen’s Park [the site of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario building]. In fact, I said I would sponsor his rally and set up a platform and a microphone, a PA system for him.”

Mayor Marie Trainer of Haldimand County, were Caledonia is located, said: “The next meeting or two will be wasted on frivolous stuff again instead of getting down to business.” Trainer also says that he should not be entering the town and did not specify what side she is on or if she is not taking any side.

This was not the first time Gary McHale entered the disputed land. On October 15, 2006, McHale with approximately 2000 (as reported by local newspapers) participants rallied in Caledonia, but the OPP blocked the entrance to the occupied site.

“Our fight is not with the natives, we’re just trying to be equal in a democratic Canada,” said Christine McHale, wife of Gary McHale.

“When a native commits a serious crime or any crime, they stand by and watch the crime take place and will not do anything to stop the crime. When a resident does the simplest thing, even putting up a Canadian flag or drinking a coffee in a lawn chair across some magic line, they will send in scores of officers to arrest the person,” said Gary McHale. “We have to take a stand and say to police forces that there is one set of laws for all citizens.”

“Police have one set of policies for natives and another set of policies for non-natives,” he said before the rally. “It’s against our Charter of Rights, that clearly says there’s not to be any discriminations based on their religion, beliefs, race or their skin colour.”

McHale has been long critical of the Ontario Provincial Police over the land claim saying that they treat aboriginals differently. McHale and his wife operate a website called Caledonia Wake Up Call.com, were they detail what they describe as police bias.

Sources

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Caledonia land dispute


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December 15, 2006

Court of Appeal upholds Ontario\’s talks with Caledonia

Court of Appeal upholds Ontario’s talks with Caledonia

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Friday, December 15, 2006

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The Ontario Court of Appeal yesterday has reaffirmed Ontario’s right to negotiate with Six Nations protesters on the disputed Douglas Creek Estates, a housing development, which was bought by the province, in Caledonia, Ontario.

The decision says that the attorney general and the OPP will decide if new proceedings will be launched against the protesters. The court decision also allows the protesters to continue occuping the land. It said Six Nations protesters are no longer occupying the land illegally because the Ontario government now owns the land and will let protesters continue, and that talks with both levels of government have “restored a measure of peace to the community.”

“Ontario is content to permit the peaceful occupation of its property,” the decision reads. “It has the right to do so. As a property owner it has the right to use its own land as it sees fit.”

Caledonia Mayor Marie Trainer said the decision shows that aboriginals are above the law. Mayor Trainer also said that she hoped the court of appeal would upheld a lower court order to halt negotiations with the province and federal government until protesters cleared the disputed land.

“It shows two rules of law — you and I couldn’t stay there illegally but they [the aboriginals] apparently can. That’s what’s irritating for everyone,” Trainer said. “It’s frustrating, especially when it’s illegal.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was glad that the court reaffirmed the province’s right to continue talks with protesters. He also added that the dispute is a federal issue.

“We are now waiting for the federal government to bring a substantive proposal to the table that would involve a number of aspects related to this land claim, including the use of this specific parcel,” McGuinty said.

The Caledonia land dispute has been going on since February 28 and still has not been resolved. The native protesters occupied the Douglas Creek Estates, southwest of Hamilton, saying that the property belongs to them.

Sources

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Caledonia land dispute


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October 31, 2006

Ontario Provincial Police: Caledonia land dispute is top priority

Ontario Provincial Police: Caledonia land dispute is top priority

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

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The newly appointed Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino told reporters on Monday that “the Caledonia land dispute is the single biggest issue facing him” and that, ” ‘lawbreakers’ in Caledonia will be dealt with swiftly, regardless of which side of the native occupation they are on.”

The Caledonia land dispute has been going on since February 28 and still has not been resolved. The native protesters occupied the Douglas Creek Estates, a housing development, southwest of Hamilton, saying that the property belongs to them.

Townspeople have repeatedly called for police to remove the protesters from the land, which is now owned by the province and being held in trust until the dispute is resolved.

“I certainly don’t expect that there will be lawbreaking that isn’t dealt with and that will be my message to our people as well, that it’s their duty and responsibility is to enforce the laws,” said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, on his first official day on the job. “I assure that those who do break the law will be dealt with.”

While under former commissioner Gwen Boniface, who resigned last year because of the dispute, the OPP were criticised for not enforcing the law, especially when several camera people were assaulted by native protesters.

Fantino said the on-going occupation of a property by members of the Six Nations Reserve is beyond his ability to resolve. His role in the contentious dispute will be to keep the peace in the town of Caledonia.

Officials in Ontario and the federal governments are currently negotiating with Six Nations representatives.

Sources

Wikipedia
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April 20, 2006

Native protesters repel police raid in Caledonia, Ontario

Native protesters repel police raid in Caledonia, Ontario

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just before 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC) on Thursday, Ontario Provincial Police officers armed with guns, tasers, tear gas, and pepper spray stormed the area that dozens of Six Nations protesters have occupied for the past 52 days.

“People were pepper sprayed…another man was shot in the back with a Taser and we were told more police officers would be coming back,” said protester Hazel Hill.

“The police just completely swarmed the territory,” said protester Mike Desroches, adding that the officers entered with guns drawn. No shots were fired.

“They swarmed every which way, I couldn’t even hazard a guess how many cops,” said another man, Clyde Powless. The protesters have been unarmed since the beginning of the occupation, although a police statement said some officers needed medical attention for injuries sustained “while confronted by the protesters with […] axes, crowbars, rocks and a various assortment of make-shift batons”.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon confirmed that 16 people were arrested before protesters called in reinforcements that caused police to retreat. A spokeswoman for the protesters, Janie Jamieson, made it clear that the confrontation was not over. “We’re prepared … for however long it takes,” she said.

Protesters started a huge tire fire to block the road in an attempt to prevent a further incursion by the police. A dump truck was also stopped astride the road and roadblocks set up to prevent the passage of traffic.

Protesters expect more natives to support them in the near future.

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April 17, 2006

Still no action in standoff in Ontario town

Still no action in standoff in Ontario town

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Seven weeks after citizens of the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve repossessed land near Caledonia, Ontario, on February 28, the Ontario Provincial Police, who have authority from a court to arrest the protesters for contempt of court, have yet to act.

On April 11, more than 50 police cruisers, two paddy wagons, and several vans gathered outside an abandoned school on Unity Road in Caledonia. However, reports from last night are that visible police presence is minimal, with just a few police cruisers parked down the road from the protest site.

Before the site was blocked, Henco Industries had begun construction on 10 luxury homes out of a total of 71 scheduled to be built as part of the $6 million Douglas Creek Estates subdivision.

The tract of land under dispute was registered as a land claim by the Six Nations Band Council in 1987 but its status has yet to be settled. The land originally made up part of a large land grant given in 1784 to the Six Nations for services rendered during the American War of Independence. The government and the developer claim that the Six Nations surrendered title in 1841, but the Band disputes this.

The protesters are demanding a nation-to-nation dialogue with the Canadian government and continue to call for a peaceful resolution. Some protesters, however, have stated that if the OPP forcefully try to remove them, they will defend their land with force.

“If they break the peace, we’ll do what we have to do,” said protester Dick Hill. “Things are very tense. We are trying to defend our lands, which were taken from us. Every time we try to stand up for who we are and what we are, they come and drag us away.”

An injunction was issued to the development company a month ago that allowed for the protesters to be removed. Police have not enforced the injunction.

However, David Ramsay, Ontario’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said that the province was going to have a meeting with both protesters and developers in an attempt to address their concerns.

“This is a very serious situation. I have to be very hopeful that we’re going to see a peaceful end to this situation. We think we can resolve this by negotiating, and by talking so that’s what we’re doing,” added Ramsay.

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