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Blockade shuts down highway in Caledonia

A group of Indigenous protesters have removed a barricade (in photo) on Argyle Street in Caledonia that was set up on Aug. 10. However, a new blockade has been set up on Highway 6, OPP said on Sept. 5. Brian Thompson/Brantford Expositor/Postmedia Network

A group of Indigenous protesters have removed a barricade (in photo) on Argyle Street in Caledonia that was set up on Aug. 10. However, a new blockade has been set up on Highway 6, OPP said on Sept. 5. Brian Thompson/Brantford Expositor/Postmedia Network

Haldimand County OPP were at the scene of a blockade at Highway 6 and Sixth Line in Caledonia on Monday afternoon.
The OPP went to the site at about 1:30 p.m. Monday after receiving a report that Highway 6 was being blocked by a group of people.
Provincial police, in a statement released late Monday afternoon, said they had closed Highway 6 between Argyle Street North and Greens Road and Sixth Line between Argyle Street South and Oneida Road in the interests of public safety.
Detour routes were being put in place for Highway 6 traffic while Argyle Street South is open to through traffic.
Provincial police say updates will be provided as information becomes available and is confirmed.
The statement from the OPP came after a weekend of uncertainty when both the Provincial Police and Indigenous demonstrators sent out statements concerning a weekend incident in Caledonia.
The demonstrators said plans to move a blockade from Argyle Street South in Caledonia to nearby train tracks were thwarted by the threat of mass arrest, say a group of Indigenous demonstrators.
The demonstrators issued a statement saying they had decided to move the barricade from Argyle Street (also known as Plank Road), to the train tracks.
“However, the threat of mass police arrests prevented us from taking down the barricade,” the statement said.
The OPP meanwhile, issued their own statement, saying that observed a group of people walking westbound on Sixth Line and as police officers travelled toward the railway tracks they notice wooden pallets on the track that had been set on fire.
Six Nations Fire attended the scene and put out the fire. There were no injuries but OPP say they are now investigating the fire as mischief.
Const. Rod LeClair of the Haldimand County OPP, had no response to the comment concerning the ‘threat of mass arrests’ by police.
“Our role remains to preserve the peace and maintain the safety of the public and officers,” LeClair said.
At issue is the transfer of Burtch Lands to the Six Nations Band Council. The lands were turned over to the council as a way of bringing to an end barricades that were set up at the former Douglas Creek Estates property 11 years ago as part of an ongoing land rights dispute.
The demonstrators are supporters of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and say the Burtch land should have been transferred to the confederacy not the band council. They set up a barricade on Argyle Street South more than 20 days ago to bring attention to the issue.
Although some have have suggested the issue is an internal matter for the people of Six Nations to resolve, the demonstrators, in their statement, said there are larger issues at stake.
“While the actions spurred by the Burtch lands in particular, are seemingly internal, this is about the bigger issues in the context of land transfer, sovereignty and self-determination,” they said in their statement. “The Haldimand Treaty was made with the people of the confederacy – one of the oldest democratic governments in the world not with the Elected Band Council.
“We the people are the ones to uphold these treaties and the only ones to ovesee and take care of our lands.”
If the Canadian and Ontario governments are successful in their efforts of transferring the Burtch property to the elected band council, it will set a dangerous precedence, they added.
“This will affect all Onkwehonwe nations across Turtle island where traditional Onkwehonwe governments are ignored, treaties such as the Two Row Wampum are broken and Onkwehonwe sovereignty over our land is denied,” they said in their statement. “This issue is particularly relevant and urgent with the announcement by the Trudeau government to separate the INAC (Indigenous affairs) offices in an attempt to mend nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous communities.”
The province has said it is not involved in an internal issues on Six Nations but this sidesteps the fact that their actions created the division, the demonstrators say.
“This is not acceptable,” they said in their statement. “If Ontario does not want to further contribute to internal division they will halt all land transfers to the Six Nations Elected Band Council and return to the negotiation table.”
The demonstrators also acknowledged the impact the barricade has has on Caledonia and Six Nations business owners.
“We would like to acknowledge their patience and understanding in this matter,” they said.