Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Battle Lines are Drawn Between Reporters Lynda Powless and Christie Blatchford

The publisher of "Turtle Island News", one of the two newspapers serving the Six Nations Reserve and wider Native community, is Lynda Powless.  She is also a reporter and photographer for her paper.  During the "Caledonia crisis" which began 28 February 2006, Ms. Powless was front and center and she and her team took some really excellent photographs which she assembled to include in a separate publication, Lynda Powless, Douglas Creek Reclamation: A Pictoral History, Ohsweken, Turtle Island News, 2006.  At the end of the array of photos, Ms. Powless offers her interpretation of events.  In reading this material I was very surprised to find that it was more of a "rant" against the government than anything resembling a dispassionate assessment of the facts - especially considering the lawlessness shown during the events of the "reclamation".  Clearly Ms. Powless is passionate about her home territory and its people, and this emotion permeates the writing.  The article includes a list of grievances of the Six Nations people against others. One of the conclusions arrived at by the author is that, The Crown was systematically inducing the sale of Six Nations lands without lawful surrenders (p. 32)Please note that this publication was written before the submission of the "Holmes Report" (in 2009) which blows out of the water any of these land claims.

The present writer was unable to find any detailed description or review of the above publication anywhere on the Internet.

At a later date, after considerably more atrocities had been committed, Christie Blatchford published her book on the subject, 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.   Blatchford's book was much more controversial than that of Ms. Powless.  It appears that if you describe facts that paint Six Nations in a "bad light" you can expect to be on the receiving end of a lot of anger and venom.  Ms. Blatchford received death threats, and she was banned from discussing her book by the University of Waterloo (see here).  So much for freedom of speech in Canada in the early 21st Century.  The "anti - Blatchford" movement was largely orchestrated by the young White Marxist "supporters" of Six Nations,  who apparently do not believe in free speech - or even the presentation of factual material if it might paint a less than positive picture of indigenous people (see here for the experiences of an academic who was targeted by the same sort of self righteous fanatics that infest universities these days).  Some bloggers, of the far left (or is it right) persuasion, go to extreme lengths to try and undermine the credibility of Ms. Blatchford.  See here for a "classic" example, which include the author's "credentials" which are as follows: "Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) is a South Asian writer and activist based in Vancouver, on unceded Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil Waututh territories. She is involved in anti-racist, migrant justice, feminist, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements and has been active in Indigenous solidarity for over a decade." 

So now we have not only home grown university students who with a knee jerk reflex step up to support Native people, but also recent immigrants to Canada who somehow come to know more than those of us educated at Canadian universities and who live on or near Canada's Reserves.  But I digress.

Here is a description of Ms. Blatchford's book from the Amazon.com site:

It officially began on February 28, 2006, when a handful of protesters from the nearby Six Nations reserve walked onto Douglas Creek Estates, then a residential subdivision under construction, and blocked workers from entering. Over the course of the spring and summer of that first year, the criminal actions of the occupiers included throwing a vehicle over an overpass, the burning down of a hydro transformer which caused a three-day blackout, the torching of a bridge and the hijacking of a police vehicle. During the very worst period, ordinary residents living near the site had to pass through native barricades, show native-issued "passports", and were occasionally threatened with body searches and routinely subjected to threats. Much of this lawless conduct occurred under the noses of the Ontario Provincial Police, who, often against their own best instincts, stood by and watched: They too had been intimidated. Arrests, where they were made, weren't made contemporaneously, but weeks or months later. The result was to embolden the occupiers and render non-native citizens vulnerable and afraid. Eighteen months after the occupation began, a home builder named Sam Gualtieri, working on the house he was giving his daughter as a wedding present, was attacked by protesters and beaten so badly he will never fully recover from his injuries.

Also roughing up of American ATF officers, and local Hamilton CHCH reporters could be included.  Vandals, becoming more lawless, and emboldened by the lack of consequences was the result of the "police paralysis" at Caledonia.

Reviewers (with the exception of Communist anti - Western university students and immigrant radicals, obsessed with seeing "racism" and "colonialism" under every rock and behind every tree, and the Six Nations as victims irrespective of the evidence) tend to agree as to lack of bias and objectivity in the writing of Ms. Blatchford.  Ms. Blatchford is a respected Canadian journalist who has seen the many injustices related to the Caledonia situation, and who has decided to make this her "cause celebre".  While the acrimony by Ms. Powless toward Ms. Blatchford appears to have been triggered by an incident involving a "puppy", I strongly suspect that it is just a reflection of the long simmering anger over the strong stance taken by Blatchford over the Caledonia situation. Her grit determination to keep the Caledonia "embarassment" in the public eye may be at the bottom of things.  Two articles will serve as examples.  First, Judge finds Six Nations' land claim 'exceedingly weak', (see here) published in the "Globe and Mail" in 2010; and  Caledonia, the issue that dare not speak its name, (see here) published in the "National Post" in 2011 (the same newspaper that published the "puppy article" that triggered a strong reaction in Ms. Powless).
The Blatchford story on the theft of a vehicle in Ancaster, subsequently located at Six Nations, was highlighted in an article by Lynda Powless in "Turtle Island News", December 18, 2013, pp. 2-3, Analysis: Story of a stolen car, a missing dog and national media anti - Six Nations storm. In the Turtle Island News article, Powless expressed indignation that once again, Blatchford was taking a cheap shot at Six Nations without having all the facts at her disposal. While agreeing with most of the facts on the car theft as reported by Blatchford (or at least the skeleton or framework of the chronology and so on), Powless reports that Blatchford is merely continuing her theme of bashing the OPP and Six Nations at any opportunity - and having a puppy involved in the story allowed her to obtain more sympathy of the family and the situation they found themselves in. Here it appears that Ms. Powless is attempting to dispel any perceptions, as a result of the Blatchford article, that some areas of the Reserve are lawless and dangerous. It seems to the present author that the real underlying concern is that people are going to get the idea that Six Nations is not a place one would want to go without a very specific reason – it is too risky. Well, if the shoe fits …………….. Ms. Powless stated that the "National Post", where the Blatchford article appeared, fully supported Blatchford, Believe it or not.

Ms. Powless
gets a second opportunity to castigate Ms. Blatchford in her editorial on page 5 under the banner, Time for Six Nations to speak up for itself. Apparently the National Post espouses, very narrow upper middle class Euro-Canadian thinking. As to Blatchford, she just doesn't get it. So instead of fetching the truth, she rolls over and fails to look at facts. Ms. Powless asserts that the real problem is the failure to recognise that at the base of it all is the matter of land - the failure to recognise the true Six Nations claim to land they have been denied. Needless to say, I completely disagree with Ms. Powless - in fact, there are no legal outstanding land claims, that is a misconception that is widely believed but has absolutely no basis in fact - as can be seen in any of the half dozen or so postings where I discuss the "Holmes Report", presented to the Corporation of the City of Brantford, and used by Justice Harrison Arrell in recent judgements on the legitimacy of the land claims. I may have understood the misperception from someone in Ms. Powless’ position in 2007, but not today, when a great deal more is known about the legitimacy of the Six Nations land claims.

I get the sense that we have not heard the last of this clash of two very determined women.


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