Friday, June 16, 2006

Ontario buys land at centre of Caledonia dispute

Breaking news from CTV:

Updated Fri. Jun. 16 2006 12:18 PM ET News Staff

The Ontario government has made a deal to buy out the developer who owns the land currently occupied by Six Nations protesters in Caledonia, moving the two sides closer to a possible solution to the months-old standoff.

The development was announced today in an Ontario Superior Court hearing in Cayuga, Ont. by Dennis Brown, the lawyer representing the province.

"In his submission this morning, he announced Henco (Industries) the developer, and the province of Ontario have come to an agreement in principal for the purchase of the land," CTV's Denelle Balfour told CTV Newsnet.

"So the province is going to purchase Douglas Creek Estates, the contested area, and the development will come to a halt."

Under the agreement the province will hold the property in trust, while discussions continue about the ownership of the property.

There is no word on how much the province has agreed to pay for the property.

By late morning about two dozen lawyers were hammering out the details of the agreement in the courthouse, while protesters continued to occupy the site, Balfour said.

"The development will come to a halt. The roadblocks are down, but the native protesters are still on the property and there was no information in court as to whether or not that occupation will end."

After the announcement, Balfour spoke with one of a handful of natives who were in attendance at the hearing. There was no indication that protesters would be abandoning the occupation.

"They maintain, and still do, that this land is their land and should have never been sold in the first place," Balfour said.

The key players in the simmering land dispute were back in court to explain why a judge's ruling that ordered them off the land they have occupied since February was ignored.

The decision was issued in March by Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall.

So far, they've stayed put, and in recent weeks the standoff with police and local non-native Caledonia residents has become tense.

Earlier in June, Marshall ordered a hearing into why the court injunction hadn't been followed, and heard suggestions about how to resolve the impasse.

He adjourned the hearing until Friday, so that he could get in touch with the federal Indian Affairs Minister and the attorney general of Canada.

Aboriginal representatives -- who have continually maintained that they are subject only to their own laws -- were notably absent from the proceedings.

Meanwhile, separate negotiations to end the dispute resumed on Thursday after being put on hold Monday by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

He called off the talks after tempers boiled over following allegations that natives had attacked two camera operators and confiscated their tape.

Following that, an angry group of several hundred non-native Caledonians confronted the protesters, and riot police had to keep the two sides apart.

Those negotiations will continue Friday with a conference call between provincial and federal negotiators, and Six Nations representatives.

The protesters are trying to prevent construction of a housing development on land they claim as their own and have vowed to stay on the site until there is a resolution to the dispute.

Protesters argue that the site of the Douglas Creek Estates housing project was part of a large land grant in 1784, but the provincial and federal governments insist the land was surrendered in 1841 to help build a major highway.


  1. Of course. All the better to give it away to the law-breaking natives.

  2. "law-breaking natives", as opposed to the historically righteous, respectful, honest and law abiding european colonists? The European ability to restructure reality from moment to moment is truly astounding to me. WOW! Natives? Land? Treaties? Honesty? Law? Those are all words it seems that can be constructed my whites from moment to moment.

  3. Peter said: "All the better to give it away to the law-breaking natives."

    How can say such nonsense? It is the white, European settlers who broke just about every treaty they ever made with the Indigenous People who were living on this land. Don't you get it, this was -- and rightfully still is their land!! Just because your ancestors were ignorant of the Natives' laws and customs does not mean that the Natives were 'ignorant savages' and should be removed from their own land.

    While non-natives live under a written, codified system of jurisprudence, native life in the various territories of the Iroquois Confederacy is governed by a tradition called the Great Law of Peace.

    The non-native side makes and refines its laws in an adversarial political and legal system. The native side believes in a natural law that says all of its people should think and act with one mind, one heart and one body.

    The Great Law covers leadership and governance, problem-solving, crime,
    personal conduct and even diet. Proponents say it demands reason and
    consensus, equality for all, and peaceful coexistence. It rejects assimilation and subordination.

    It does it all without statutes or books, in a sophisticated oral tradition dating back hundreds of years, that really has no direct comparator in Western tradition.

    But the Great Law is almost unknown to non-natives.

    Are you still reading?

    The people of Six Nations rely on a diffuse sharing of power and a more holistic set of guiding philosophies that have sustained their civilization for centuries, dating back to well before contact with European settlers.

    The Great Law has been compared to the Magna Carta, even the Ten
    Commandments. But none of those quite captures it. For the people of the Six Nations, the Great Law of Peace is the foundation for all human relations.

    The Great Law of Peace dates back hundreds of years to the original
    unification of the five nations of Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga and
    Oneida. The specific date is disputed. The original Five Nations would later take in the Tuscarora to create Six Nations.

    Native theology teaches that the Five Nations developed harmonious relations between themselves following a mission by a Huron Peacemaker, travelling in a stone canoe to deliver the message of the Creator to stop making war with one another.

    Though he was initially repelled, he persisted and brought together the
    leadership of those peoples in support of the Tree of Peace, each sharing responsibility for helping to keep the tree standing. They created a federation that some call the original United Nations.

    A system of participatory democracy stabilized the structure, including
    equal participation of women and men, checks against the abuse of power and safeguards for the welfare of women and children through a network of clans. The system promoted communal living and the sharing of wealth.

    Some scholars believe the precepts of the Great Law eventually provided the foundations for American democracy, from which the founding fathers borrowed selectively.

    Are you beginning to understand?

    Following the principles of the Great Law, Six Nations leaders established that when non-native settlement took root in what is now known as North America, each would respect, but not follow the other's rules.

    So whose laws are being broken by "the law-breaking natives"?

    They used the metaphor of two boats, each carrying its people and their ways. Both boats would travel down the same river together -- separately, but in parallel.

    While the non-native justice system, for example, sets out specific crimes and punishments, the native system, according to the Great Law, continued to follow its holistic view, based on healing, rather than punishment, restitution as opposed to retribution.

    So please read, read, and read some more until you at least have an idea of the history that joins the First Nations with the European colonizers, who wrongfully thought that since this land was inhabited by peaceful people they must be 'savages' and they had the right to decimate and subjugate them to build their colonies. After much trickery, lies, theft, duplicity, the colonizers thought they had sufficiently subjugated the Indigenous inhabitants, and penned them into reservations, which were then gradually whittled down even further.

    There are numerous unsettled land claims ongoing for decades, mired in Canada's courts. Given our unjust and biased land-claim system, what makes you think the Six Nations People can get any justice? Do you think they should have just waited for this biased, inefficient system to hand down the decision that yes indeed, the Henco site on the Haldimand Tract rightfully does belong to them -- a ruling finally decided maybe 40-50 years from now? By then development would have further encroached upon their dwindling reserve, and the Natives would have been assimilated into the surrounding area!!

    Assimilation would not be a bad thing, you say. Well, studies have proven that natives who've followed the Canadian law, given in to Canadian jurisdiction and meekly turned the other cheek, are the ones who have suffered the most, are generally impoverished and have lost hope for the future. Many have simply disappeared. The healthiest Natives are those who resist assimilation, remember their history, practice their culture and fight for what is theirs.

    Why should Native People who have lived here for centuries have to prove they were here first? How would you feel in their shoes??

    Do not be so quick to jump on the anti-native, racist bandwagon. Please learn all the facts. You can find the information available on many internet sites.

    You can find some excellent, informative links right here on Sketchy Thought's site. If you are at all interested in going beyond blind ignorance, I suggest you check them out.

  4. All this talk of Settlement means the tax payer gets ripped off once again. I like the Native idea of claim and pay.They have found a bunch of suckers in this Government that is for sure.

  5. For all the self-indulgent shrieking by the Right on this, funny how the law-suit by businesses never gets singled out as "a waste of taxpayers' dollars" . . . .