Cale­do­nia ‘dis­gusted’ by protest, but ‘has no ap­petite’ to fight: MPP

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

Cale­do­nia res­i­dents who fought to get their town back 10 years ago af­ter an In­dige­nous road­block and oc­cu­pa­tion have no ap­petite to do it again, says Haldimand-Nor­folk MPP Toby Bar­rett.

“I feel badly for the peo­ple in Cale­do­nia,” he said Fri­day.

Protesters set up a bar­ri­cade Thurs­day on Ar­gyle Street South, a ma­jor town thor­ough­fare, at the same spot as the 2006 block­ade.

Sup­port­ers of the hered­i­tary gov­ern­ment, known as the Hau­denosaunee Con­fed­er­acy, vow to keep the bar­ri­cade up un­til se­nior gov­ern­ments re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to re­turn land near Brant­ford to the Con­fed­er­acy in­stead of the Six Na­tions Elected Band Coun­cil.

Some see the Con­fed­er­acy as the real gov­ern­ment and the band coun­cil, which was cre­ated by the 1924 In­dian Act, as in­valid. Con­fed­er­acy sup­port­ers were at the fore­front of the 2006 block­ade and hous­ing de­vel­op­ment oc­cu­pa­tion.

The 154-hectare Burtch lands, west of the Six Na­tions’ west­ern boundary, were part of the same land claim as the Dou­glas Creek Es­tates hous­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Pro­tester Doreen Sil­ver­smith said the new bar­ri­cade is a con­se­quence of the prov­ince’s fail­ure to live up to the land set­tle­ment that led demon­stra­tors to dis­man­tle the 2006 bar­ri­cades.

Bar­rett said dur­ing that protest Cale­do­nia res­i­dents “fought the good fight,” but the gov­ern­ment was there for them. “They’re dis­gusted with these kinds of tac­tics.”

Con­fed­er­acy chiefs ar­gue talks to re­move the bar­ri­cades in 2006 stip­u­lated the Burtch prop­erty be re­turned to them. In 2010, the band coun­cil re­scinded a 2006 mo­tion del­e­gat­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for land claim talks to the Con­fed­er­acy.

Ear­lier this year, the prov­ince trans­ferred the Burtch lands to a cor­po­ra­tion “to be held in trust un­der band coun­cil.”

Al­lan MacNaughton, a Con­fed­er­acy chief, has called this trans­fer in­valid. Nei­ther MacNaughton nor Leroy Hill, a mem­ber of the chiefs’ coun­cil, re­turned calls Fri­day.

Bar­rett says the 2006 ne­go­ti­a­tions lacked trans­parency.

“There’s so lit­tle doc­u­men­ta­tion of­fi­cially, no­body had any idea what they were talk­ing about. No­body took min­utes. It’s hard to say what if any of what the cur­rent protesters are say­ing is ac­cu­rate.”

In­dige­nous and North­ern Af­fairs Canada spokesper­son Stephanie Palma said Ot­tawa is work­ing with Six Na­tions’ lead­er­ship and the prov­ince “to ex­plore op­tions for a way for­ward that would meet the in­ter­ests of all par­ties.” She did not elab­o­rate on the op­tions.

Aly Vi­tun­ski, spokesper­son for On­tario In­dige­nous Re­la­tions and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Min­is­ter David Zim­mer, said the prov­ince has hon­oured its com­mit­ment to trans­fer the Burtch prop­erty.

“We re­main hope­ful that all par­ties will be able to work to­gether in a spirit of mu­tual re­spect to en­sure the land ben­e­fits all the peo­ple of Six Na­tions.”

Haldimand County is­sued a re­lease say­ing it asked the OPP to charge the protesters “for their il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity” and re­open Ar­gyle Street. “A peace­ful protest is one that does not in­fringe upon the rights of oth­ers, and we are hop­ing for a timely res­o­lu­tion,” Mayor Ken He­witt says in the re­lease.

The OPP re­mains at the scene and re­it­er­ated the block­ade re­sults from a dis­pute be­tween the band coun­cil and the Con­fed­er­acy.

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