Indigenous barricade up on Argyle Street in Caledonia again
CALEDONIA — Native protesters who have set up a roadblock in Caledonia again vow to keep the barricade until their demands are met by the Ontario government and the Six Nations Elected Band Council.
Doreen Silversmith and a 12-member group of mostly women — supporters of the Six Nations hereditary government known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy — marched a short distance up Argyle Street South from their blockade Thursday to where OPP cruisers were parked on the road to say so.
Reading a statement to reporters, Silversmith said the barricade is a direct consequence of the Ontario government’s failure to live up to a negotiated land settlement that led natives to dismantle barricades they set up during an intense occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates housing project in 2006. The new barricade is at the entrance of
DCE. The dispute has not been resolved.
“The province of Ontario stated in writing that the title to the Burtch lands (in addition to the Caledonia lands) would be returned…,” she began. “For this, our barricades in Caledonia … came down in 2006.”
Then, in April of this year, Ontario passed the Burtch lands near Brantford “not to our Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the traditional government, but to the Six Nations Elected Band Council,” which she slammed as “the right arm of the government.”
“With that action, Ontario has committed fraud and lied to us, to our people.”
The following demands must be met for the new barricade to come down, Silversmith said:
that “Ontario and Canada return to the negotiating table with our Confederacy;”
that “Ontario lives by their words of May 17, 2006 and returns the Burtch lands under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784;”
that “Six Nations Band Council withdraw their injunction against Kris Hill and the people of Six Nations.”
Hill, a Mohawk, was farming the Burtch lands near Brantford — a former jail site and about 154 hectares west of the Six Nations boundary — until the band council was granted a court injunction preventing her from using the parcel. She had been farming the land since 2014 under a lease with the Confederacy.
The band council wants the land to become part of the reserve. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy leased wants the property to be independent from the Canadian government.
A two-day trial in the case is slated for Aug. 17-18.
In April, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation told The Spectator the Burtch lands “were offered as a way to show that Ontario was serious about addressing the outstanding Six Nations grievances that were subject of protests.”
A month earlier, the province transferred the property to a numbered corporation established by the Six Nations council to hold it for its people and “not to a particular governing entity,” the ministry said.
The Argyle Street South march — to the beat of a drum and with placards — took place three hours after the barricade went up around 8:30 a.m. .
Thursday’s roadblock consisted of a hydro tower, wooden crates and Indigenous warrior flags.
“Ontario is going to be 100 per cent responsible for any actions resulting from their lies,” Silversmith said.
“We, as the Haudenosaunee people, stand with our Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council, which is the traditional government.”
Asked if barricades would also be put up around the Burtch lands, since that is the area in dispute, Silversmith said it is a possibility.
When asked why the barricade did not start there, she declined to comment further and returned with the group to the former Douglas Creek Estates site.
Six Nations Chief Ava Hill could not be reached but communications officer Victoria Racette said the band council is unable to comment due to the legal proceedings.
Argyle Street South was closed at Highway 6 and at Braemar Avenue near Canadian Tire during the protest. OPP Const. Rod LeClair said officers were present and blocking the street near the barricade only “to preserve the peace.
” The area was calm, with only a handful of Caledonia residents gathered at the police roadblock asking what was going on, and then reminiscing how bad the 2006 blockade was.
Protesters walk to waiting media to deliver their statement of demands on Argyle Street South in Caledonia Thursday morning.
OPP officers walk down Argyle Street South to speak with protesters on Thursday.