UPDATE FROM CALEDONIA FRONTLINES ~ HAZEL HILL 5-23-06
Good Morning from Grand River
Well, by now everyone has heard how our show of good faith was met. Yesterday morning by 6:00 a.m. the main barricade on Plank Road (Argyle Street) was removed and the road was completely open ready for use. It wasn't met with good faith however, on the part of Caledonia residents, or at least those claiming to represent Caledonia. Their human barricade refused to budge and at one point, surrounded an elderly couple who were attempting to come through. The opp stood by and watched as the angry crowd refused to let our people through and when spokesman Clyde Powless and spokeswoman Janie Jamieson tried to go up and talk to the opp to get them to help our people through the line, they were surrounded by the angry caledonia representatives and shoving and pushing began. we were told that the vehicle that our elders were in had windows smashed, however, the opp said that no damage was done to the car. it was unclear at that point as to why the caledonia citizens did not meet our efforts of good faith, but later in an interview, Ken Hewitt, representing the Caledonia Citizens Alliance stated that they were not satifsfied with the fact that only one of our barricades were taken down and that they wanted all of the barricades down and they wanted the Onkwehonweh people off the land that we've re-claimed. Obviously David Peterson and the Town of Haldimand didn't inform the caledonia residents of the nature of the negotiations and the process that was being followed. Our press release of early yesterday morning with Chief Allen McNaughton and other representatives of the Confederacy Council stated the status of the negotiations and that as agreed, the main road into Caledonia was being opened up as a show of good faith. Later on that morning there was statements made by some of those on the caledonia side of things that they wanted to march down argyle street to the site of the land reclaimation. This was exactly the concern of the Onkwehonweh people in their hesitation at wanting to open up the road in the first place. The intention of our people to keep the peace and open the road was being met with anger and threats to our safety. Needless to say, because the opp were unable to convince those representing caledonia to disassemble their human blockade and go home and allow us to proceed as planned with the peaceful negotiations, the barricades were put back up. At one point, one of the elders of our people had offered a symbolic gesture to let them know that we still are upholding the peace and that they must choose which direction they wanted to proceed, but he was met with hollering and insults from the non-native protesters. I must add as well that in speaking with the opp, they had mentioned that many many caledonia residents were deeply disappointed in the people who were instigating the people on their side, and that many believe that those present who were causing the disruption, were not residents of Caledonia and that they were outsiders who's main intent was to instigate trouble. and that they did. they were given a time frame to dismantle their people and allow the Onkwehonweh to continue with our offering of opening the road, and when they refused to move, at the end of that time frame, the concensus of the people was to dig the road up and a backhoe was brought in to begin that process. Again, the opp asked for more time to persuade their people to go home, and the digging stopped but their people refused to move. At one point in the afternoon some of the non-native protesters began trying to come around the side of the opp and rush toward our people. The men and women stood in defense of our position and at least 30 of our people were peppersprayed, a couple of our people were taken to the hospital, and several of the caledonia people were hurt in the scuffle. again, we were able to bring our people back to refrain from any further escalations of violence, however, the mood at this point was indeed tense. by evening there were anywhere from 250 to 300 caledonia citizens in their human blockade and most of the people of Six Nations had gathered in solidarity behind our barricade. the opp had called in extra support from all over the surrounding areas, and at one point the riot squad had gathered in hopes of getting the caledonia people to go home. no action was taken by the opp or riot squad, and by around 2:30 this morning, most of the residents from the caledonia blockade had retreated. as of this morning at around 7:00 am., the barricade on the plank road is still there, and the people are considering now if another show of good faith will result in the same situation or worse, or whether we should once again, attempt to remove the barricades to allow the traffic to move freely through and allow our delegates to continue with the peaceful negotiations that were scheduled to continue this week. We need our supporters to understand that we are continuing with our peaceful position, that we are unarmed, and intend to maintain that positon of Peace, on our Land, and trust in our People, in our Kaierenekowah--the Great Law, and in our Creator and the process that was given to us to resolve this situation to the best of our ability. We appreciate all of the phone calls and e-mails, and I apologize if I am unable to respond to each of your e-mails individually, but at this moment, we are working diligently to ensure the safety of our people at the site, and will keep everyone posted and updated as quickly as possible. The solidarity of the Onkwehonweh people is the most important factor in this situation and we appreciate all of those who are standing by to support in any way that is necessary if the Crown's representatives fail to keep the negotiations proceeding toward a peaceful resolution.