Blockade backs demands
A group of indigenous protesters have erected a barricade on Argyle Street at the south end of Caledonia, Ontario on Thursday morning, August 10, 2017. The location is the same spot where a large protest over the Douglas Creek Estates residential development took place several years ago. So far protesters are not allowing photographs at the site, nor are they willing to comment on the matter that prompted the barricade. Ontario Provincial Police are on scene and have stopped traffic from approaching the scene. Brian Thompson/Brantford Expositor/Postmedia Network
CALEDONIA -- Barricades were set up in Haldimand County on Thursday to back demands related to the former Burtch correctional facility lands about 30 kilometres to the west in Brant County,
The barricades were set up early Thursday morning on Argyle Street South in Caledonia, next to the former Douglas Creek Estates property -- the site of a blockade more than 10 years ago -- by a group supporting the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.
The group's demands are aimed at the provincial government and the Six Nations elected council. And the barricades will remain in place until their demands are met, Doreen Silversmith, a spokesperson for the group told the media.
The group is upset that the province has turned over the Burtch property to the elected council rather than the confederacy council.
"In May 2006, the Province of Ontario stated in writing that the title of the Burtch Lands would be returned to its original state and status under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784," Silversmith told the media at the protest site on Thursday.
"For this, our barricades in Caledonia came down in 2006.
"Then, in April 2017, Ontario passes the land, not to our Haudenosaunee Confederacy but to Six Nations elected band council," Silversmith said. "With that action, Ontario has committed fraud and lied to our people."
She said the province is responsible for any actions resulting from its decision.
"Ontario's actions bring much dishonour to the Crown and is in violation of the Two Row Wampum, the Silver Covenant Chain and the William Claus Wampum."
And she said that the provincial's government's actions bring "shame to the words spoke by (federal) Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould when she stated that First Nations need to prepare for a future where Indian Act Bands are done away with, opening the door to a more traditional governance."
The demonstrators are demanding Ontario and Canada return to the negotiating table with the confederacy council, return the Burtch Lands under the Haldimand Proclamation and that the Six Nations elected council withdraw its injunction against farmer Kris Hill.
That last demand refers to an injunction against Hill, who was farming the Burtch property under a lease from the confederacy council, until the elected council filed an injunction to make her stop,
In June, the confederacy council appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to return to the negotiating table.
They want to revisit a decision by the province to transfer the 380-acre Burtch property to a federal corporation run by the Six Nations elected council. As well, the confederacy council opposed the elected band council's decision to seek an injunction to evict Hill.
Hill appeared in a Brantford court on Thursday regarding the injunction issue.
Haldimand OPP responded to the barricade at 8:30 a.m. and set up a road block to divert traffic away from the blockade. Argyle Street North at Highway 6 and southbound Argyle at Braemar Avenue were closed.
Traffic was rerouted to Haldimand Road 66.
"The primary role of the OPP will be to preserve the peace, maintain safety for the public, the participants and police," said Haldimand OPP Const. Rod LeClair. "We're asking everyone involved or affected by the demonstration to remain calm, patient, obey the law and respect the rights of others for the benefit of all."
LeClair wouldn't say how many OPP officers were on scene.
He said the OPP has communications lines to both the Confederacy and elected councils.
He said the OPP can't solve the "underlying issues" behind the protest.
Meanwhile, the return of the barricades next to the former Douglas Creek Estates land, brought back memories for Caledonia residents who were at the site Thursday morning.
"It's an irritant but I understand what the issue is," said one longtime resident, who did not want to be named. "What I don't understand is why the demonstration is here in Caledonia.
"The land is question - the Burtch land - is in Brant County and it's all about a deal between the elected band council and the Ontario government. It doesn't have anything to do with Caledonia."
Most Caledonia residents who visited the site Thursday spent their time talking among themselves and providing directions to people who were looking for a route around the barricade.
The community was the site of a major land dispute in February 2006 when protestors from Six Nations took over the Douglas Creek development. The dispute lasted several months.
The confederacy chiefs council says that, as part of a negotiated resolution, the provincial government agreed to turn over the Burtch lands to the HCCC.
Their argument is based on the premise that the lands would be returned in the same manner they were held in 1784 when they became part of the Haldimand Tract. At that time, there was no elected band council, Indian Act or federal corporations.
Brantford Expositor 2017 ©