Monday, 18 November 2013

The 2006 Caledonia "Land Reclamation": Peaceful Protest or Anarchistic Riot?

The answer to the above question can best be left to an archive of pictures.  The testimony of those local residents most drastically affected by the events between February 2006 and February 2007 have been detailed in the book by Christie Blatchford, Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, Toronto, Doubleday Canada, 2010.  Her book is illustrated with photographs taken at the time.  The Native perspective, complete with a large array of pictures, is given in Lynda Powless, Douglas Creek Reclamation: A Pictoral History, Ohsweken, Turtle Island News, 2006.

It is my firm belief that if blame is to be laid at anyones doorstep ............ well, better I not judge, but rather I will leave it to the facts to speak for themselves.  It seems to be in the nature of humans that the finger of blame will always be pointed at someone else, but ultimately, according to my worldview, one must take responsibility for ones actions.  If I push a car off a bridge or toss a Molotov cocktail at it thereby burning it to metal scrap - it was my choice, and I should expect to pay the price for my ill conceived decisions.  I have never done anything of this nature.  It is the behaviour of people whose only respect is for their own ideology in a sel - indulging world where the end justifies the means - whether there are facts of any description to support the beliefs is immaterial - the beliefs rule.  Generally, in most of the world, you do the crime, you do the time - anywhere but Caledonia that is.

As noted previously, I was at a College south of Syracuse NY at the time these events took place, and my duties required that I remain at my post.  When I was able to return, many of the events depicted in the following pictures were those I only heard about second hand, and could infer from the scars left on the land.  I will always regret not being able to return to my ancestral home of the Grand River in a timely fashion, but responsibilities to those who would be affected by my leaving, on whatever pretext, weighted heavily on my shoulders. 

Why did I leave this incident to post number 38 when in a sense, it was the event that led directly to the previous 37?  I don't have a good answer.  I do know that I have avoided looking at the pictures because I simply cannot believe that the good people of Six Nations would behave in the manner of barbarians and terrorists.  That does not compute.  However when I go over each picture, the inescapable truth stares me in the face.  For the years between 2006 and 2013 I have sat on the fence (literally) where I did not know whether to offer my support to the Native side or the Caledonia side.  Ultimately my training and professional experience allowed me to put to one side any emotional entanglements, and to just look at the facts, the evidence.  When I did that, over a period of years (not weeks or months), I have come to the conclusion that to not lend my voice to those who have suffered and sacrificed so much, would no longer be acceptable in my mind.  Veritas, the truth - the dispassionate search for the truth is all that is now before my eyes.  So I will call the plays based on observation and the documented trail of factual material - nothing else.  Let the crumbs fall where they may.

An interesting article was published in The Hamilton Spectator, asking the question, "Caledonia players: Where are they now?  This Spec article can be seen here.

What follows include pictures, and my caption based on my knowledge of the locations depicted as they were before 2006.  They are in no particular order - the goal is to show what went on, not provide any sort of documentary chronology, or judgemental diatribe.  Most of the following occurred in 2006 or 2007:

A burning vehicle at the Caledonia Bypass (Highway 6) with another on the way

A vehicle about to be pushed on to Highway 6, Caledonia Bypass

 Some of the protesters directly involved in the crisis in Caledonia

Argyll Street blocked

Gravel dumped on Argyll Street by protesters

Argyll Street on fire

Substantial OPP presence

Riot squad from London who stayed for a few minutes and departed

The Stirling Steet Bridge over the railway completely engulfed in flames

A sense of what the DCE property looked like before most of the homes were trashed
ATVs - devices residents claim were used to terrorise them at all hours
Gary McHale after being assaulted by a Native protester, prior to his (McHales) arrest

Sam Gaultieri, beaten and brain damaged by Natives who broke into the home of his daughter
After seeing the above pictures, I will ask whether the following picture makes any sense whatsoever.  I attempted to find a picture of a Native person being arrested at a protest rally or anything of this description but could find nothing - although I know that the OPP have laid charges after the fact against Native protesters.  Here is a picture of our "peacekeeprs" at work:

Caledonia resident Randy Fleming being arrested for carrying a Canadian flag in 2009.  Note the officer's knee on Mr. Fleming's neck
I will ask a very simple question at this point.  Considering the blog posts to date, and the pictures above, how will the residents of Caledonia and Haldimand County view the following cartoon?







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