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 The land originally made up part of a large land grant given in 1784 to the Six Nations for services rendered during the American War of Independence.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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