Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Losani Housing Development Occupation by Six Nations Hereditary Council Affiliates and Young White Supporters - Updates from 10 August 2020

 In the blog posting below the author outlines the events and issues to 9 August 2020.  Clearly it is toppling under its own weight, so the circumstances arising since 10 August will be noted here.

First I want to make a personal plea to any who will listen.  We in Caledonia have suffered indignities of the same nature as our present predicament since 2006 - 14 years.  I know people who have been highly traumatized by the situation.  The occupiers of the Douglas Creek Estates site were brutal and cruel in the extreme, and made life miserable for neighbours.  Some would be / have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Only someone who lives here can fully appreciate the scale of the toll these constant "protests" and blockades take on us locals.  I slept 2 hours last night and I live between the protest site and the Bridge relatively removed geographically from the issues facing those on the margins of the Losani Development (Caledonia Drive and Celtic Drive area).  

For those who need to get up to speed on the events of the last 14 years, the late Christie Blatchford's book, Helpless:  Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us (Doubleday Canada, 2010) may still be available.  The current blog is perhaps the best (most comprehensive) single site for events since 2010.

We in Caledonia need a resolution, and promptly.  This latest "event" is the most miserable in a long string of them since the Spring of 2006 when the Douglas Creek Estates Development on the west side of Argyle Road at the south end of Caledonia was stolen.  Now it is the Losani Housing Development on the east side of Argyle Road along McKenzie Road (this road being the only other way out of Caledonia to the south for many miles - since the Highway 6 Bypass is also blockaded).

With that being said, I return to a chronological rendition of events since 10 August 2020.

10 August 2020:  Monday, 3 pm.  No change - all quiet at the two sites.  However most of those who I observed at Losani were very youthful White people, who were using 2x4 lumber and 4x8 chipboard panels to construct something amidst the mounds of dirt and construction site bric a brac (e.g., rows of sewer pipe).  

An article in the Brantford Expositor provides a fine update here.  Also the CHCH Hamilton report here gives more information on the call by protesters for help from all the Six Nations community; and how apparently other Native groups (e.g., Ipperwash) are en route to provide their support. In addition Turtle Island News, known (at least in the past) for being the publishing arm of the Hereditary Council, has provided a very objective analysis of the complexity of the problems involved - and I highly recommend the article here.  An article in the Sachem reflects the frustrations of all with the Federal Government who have stalled for 27 years in resolving the land claims issue (see here).  The column is adamant that Prime Minister Trudeau needs to come here - now.

11 August 2020:  1:30 pm.  Slept only 2 hours last night - serious agitation is establishing itself as this thing drags on.  At two sites I am monitoring (Argyle Street barricade; Losani Housing Development), no change.  The CBC News published an article outlining the protesters demands, as seen here.  Basically the individual "spearheading the charge" at Losani, a man with a criminal record of violence stemming from 2006, has written to all members of Six Nations (23,000 I guess, give or take).  He is asking for their support.  He is also "demanding" that the Federal Minister in charge of Indian and Northern Development, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, come to the site for talks - with the deadline being Friday.  Actually this is a wonderful idea - although it will never happen if the past is any indication of the future.  

We need to have people like Lonny Bomberry and Phil Monture (Six Nations Lands and Resources officals at Ohsweken), both very well informed and an asset to the Community, meet with the Feds.  Hopefully we can entice Phil out of retirement, and keep Lonny in the saddle a while longer (both are my age).  Should they request my assistance as the only other individual who has foraged through the entire vast Library and Archives Canada RG10, Indian Affairs, Papers and Records - I would take it under consideration - to represent Caledonia, and the truth.  

It has been 27 years, and no action to date.  Apparently these things can't be rushed.  Only the Federal Government can settle this matter once and for all - however the Hereditary Council supporters have never been big fans of the truth or giving up their claim to be the sole representative of the Six Nations people.  Thus, unless it is complete capitulation on the part of the Feds, deferring to the Hereditary Council, we are back to square one - no matter what is negotiated with the Elected Council.

So, the beat goes on, and we anxiously await the next development.  Will Prime Minister Trudeau make an appearance, or will the OPP bring in the tactical gear and transport vans and carry out the Court Order?  Will the adolescent White "supporters" bail before the troops arrive?  Perhaps COVID-19 is giving them too much free time, which combined with the naivity and idealism of youth, may lead them to unforeseen negative consequences.  The "supporters" in 2006 were older - university graduate students and their protegees.  A call to each of their supervisors warning that they, being mentors, would be held personally responsible for the actions of their students, appears to have had the intended consequences.  But with 18 year olds ................. wonder if their parents approve.

The latest report, 5 pm from the Brantford Expositor can be seen here.  Apparently the Elected Chief is calling for more time from Premier Ford.  It was also noted that reinforcements are on the way from the west and that the 401 and 403 may experience rolling slow downs.  OPP - act now!


Thursday, 6 August 2020

Encore - Protest + Factionism + Court Order + Arrests + Tire Fire + Blockade of Caledonia Roads: August 2020 COVID-19 Version (Updates to 9 August)

This author has been exhausted over the years, having to report on the very same scenarios (slightly different twists at most) with the same or next generation actors with the same predictable outcomes.  Nothing, since 2006 seems to change in these scenarios.  Certainly not the tactics - eventually it comes back to setting up some sort of road block, whether it be with a very bedraggled metal hydro tower hauled across the road from the "retreat" at the entrance to Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonstaton) time and time again, or something a little different.  Yes, this time there was a twist since Hydro has repossessed the purloined tower.  

For the above reason I have avoided (or postponed) writing anything about the latest iteration on the same theme.  It is as boring to me as it must be to readers.  However, it does provide a sense, to those who do not have the pleasure of living in Caledonia, of the unique (at least in Ontario) struggles that citizens are forced to endure.  Maybe at some level I still have a tiny ray of hope that someone "in authority" will take pity on us and do something to bring the entire land dispute "crisis" to a successful resolution.  I honestly believe at this point that humans will be settled on Mars before anything is done about Caledonia's situation.  

An e-mail from a friend convinced me to speak out yet again - even if it is whistling into the wind and no one is listening anyway.  My friend showed me a communication from his friends who reside extremely close to where the current protest is happening - i.e., near Douglas Creek Estates - people who are afraid once again for their lives and their livelihood.  Since 2006 they have been much more directly impacted by the protests than virtually anyone else.  So once again into the breach .......

Some Background:  During the COVID-19 crisis of late something very positive has emerged on the Reserve - the Elected Chiefs and the Hereditary Chiefs have been speaking with each other with the goal being to protect the elders.  Alas, this largely unprescedented act does not seem to have led to a rapprochement between the two warring factions.  Splinters began when a group of protesters, supporters of the Hereditary Chiefs, took it upon themselves to protest the Losani housing development.  The rather idyllic project is detailed here.  The Elected Council of the Six Nations approved of and supported this development (for a "consideration" of course), however the Hereditary Council did not give its approval - the standard, typical set up leading to an inevitable work stoppage at the construction site.  

Please recall that the land in question was surrendered by the Chiefs in full Council on 18 December 1844 - the media makes it seem that Foxgate and Losani (the developers) purchased "aboriginal land".  That is absolutely false.  "Historically" (prior to 1844) it was Native land, but it is only since the land "reclamation" of 2006 that, in order to avoid work stoppages, that developers have been giving int to what amounts to extortion.  In other words, give us $350,000 (or some such figure) and we will go away and the work can proceed.  No money, then expect protests and work stoppages.  So developers have learned that this is simply the cost of doing business anywhere near Caledonia - even though entirely illegal and immoral (the land was sold 170 years ago, demanding it back is out and out wrong).  I have tried, even hoisting a sign as to the surrender in 1844, but the media are still under the impression that this was until recently aboriginal land and that the developer negotiated with the Elected Council at Six Nations - they being the legal owners of the land.  Again we return to the theme of this blog, facts versus beliefs.

An excellent overview of this particular protest complete with the oh so standard flags on an excavator visual image can be found in an article in the Brantford Expositor here.