I had the opportunity to speak with a number of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers stationed at various points along Highway 6, and access roads. Coming from Caledonia the barricade involves two police vehicles and cones, and a very friendly Sergeant and a Constable. They were directing traffic, half east along 5th Line to McKenzie Road where people can circumvent the blockade, and the other half west up to Cayuga Road on the Reserve where they can turn south and return to Highway 6 by 3rd Line (or 4th Line at the time I was there - more on this later).
|Officers at 5th Line directing vehicles toward Cayuga Road|
|A few minutes later at 5th Line (Haldimand County supplied sign and barridade)|
Since I wanted to take pictures of the actual blockade site, the very helpful Sergeant obtained a number for another Sergeant at the Cayuga Detachment who would speak to me. I went home and called. The Sergeant explained the situation (exactly as I knew it to be) and indicated that the OPP were still trying to negotiate with the leaders of the blockade to obtain a more suitable plan that would not impede traffic along Highway 6. All media was apparently being stopped - confirmed by an on site officer who said that one of the Reserve newspapers had tried to get through but were denied access via Highway 6.
However there was an inconsistency which allowed any Six Nations member to access Highway 6 from the Reserve unimpeded. Specifically, there were no OPP officers at any point along 4th Line on the west (Reserve) side. So after turning left on Cayuga Road from 5th Line I turned left (east) on 4th Line within the Reserve. I sailed through and came upon what was obviously an expanding set up which was blockading Highway 6 at 4th Line (Willow Grove). They were established amidst the homes and businesses of non-Natives and had more or less taken over the surrounds. There were police cars on both sides of 4th Line on Highway 6.
|View coming down 4th Line at Highway 6|
To repeat, coming down the 4th Line from Cayuga Road on the Reserve, there was no barrier of any description and no OPP anywhere in this vicinity except on Highway 6 as seen below. The tent above was set up blocking the west lane of Highway 6. What follows are other views of the blockade.
|Vehicle with Mohawk Warrior flags blocking Highway 6 north side of 4th Line|
|OPP vehicles to the north of above vehicle|
|Tent blocking Highway 6 - Looking south|
|Sign looking north toward tent|
|Vehicle with Mohawk Warrior and Confederacy flags blocking Highway 6 on south side|
|OPP vehicles and road block at 3rd Line looking north|
|4th Line and McKenzie Road looking west|
Assessment: The OPP officers I met were all friendly and professional and were dedicated to keeping any confrontation from occurring. All perfectly understandable. What is frustrating (other than being blocked from access to Highway 6 without having to take a giant detour) is that Six Nations members could funnel down 4th Line to Highway 6 and at the time I was there, could drive north or south without impediment. In other words - "Natives" were given a free pass to access Highway 6 (all who passed the tent were given a handout entitled, "Why is Highway 6 being blockaded today? Information sheet for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls"), while non-Natives were forbidden from any access to Highway 6 from 3rd Line to 5th Line.
In addition, coming down 4th Line, the Six Nations residents avenue, there were no militant political signals. However, via the approach which the participants expected the local people to take, Highway 6, there were the familiar Mohawk Warrior and Confederacy flags long associated with the assault on Caledonia by Six Nations - and seen for 8 years from the "reclamation" at Douglas Creek Estates.
So "the message" of the blockade was provided in the form of information sheets for Six Nations residents; and in the form of vehicles bedecked in symbols of militancy facing the vehicles that would be driven by residents of for example Hagersville and Caledonia. The physical set up here could not be more clear. The local residents were once again being taunted by the symbols associated with the suffering of so many years and there was not one single sign that spoke of the pretend issue (missing and murdered aboriginal women). Only on a single truck was there a small banner about this matter, and it was indirect (something about missing sisters), and at the time of my visit hidden from the Caledonia approach via Highway 6.
So on Saturday, if you were a resident of Six Nations, no problem, just take an info sheet and be on your way. There was a clear double standard in place here, where members of Six Nations did not have to worry about being inconvenienced. Without a doubt there would have been bitter and acrimonious exchanges had this group attempted to block any at Six Nations - many at Six Nations have no tolerance for certain "sub-groups" of the Hereditary Council. They will likely stay away - many are likely displeased at again putting Six Nations in a negative spotlight.
Here though, in the morning of the first day of the protest, all Six Nations present on 4th Line appeared to be on the same page. There appeared to be more men than women at the barricades - many older males. Those at the blockade, about 20 or so at the time I was there, were having a fine time laughing and joking - of course at the expense of Haldimand County residents - but do they care? I will allow readers to come to their own conclusion here.
During the evening CHCH TV had fairly extensive coverage of the Native protests at Highway 6, Hamilton, and Tyendinaga as seen here. Here one woman pulls the same old chestnuts out of the drawer of ignorance saying that "Harper does not care". Actually, that is not the case. He has made the correct assertion that the RCMP and others including academics have studied the missing and murdered women matter in depth and the answer is always the same - social dysfunction in the family and community of origin. Many Native leaders are calling for an end to the blame game and an acceptance that change has to come from taking personal and collective responsibility, not expecting government to solve all problems (all the while bitterly criticizing government). Also the supposed "fact" of Canadian racism and genocide were mentioned. If racism was true, Six Nations would have been dispersed to Manitoulin Island and the American West as was proposed and as was occurring in the 1840s - but government stepped in and established the Reserve system to allow Native communities to remain intact. Racism indeed. As to genocide, there was none, never. The only true historical acts of genocide have been perpetrated by Native on Native violence where for example the Haudeosaunee completely destroyed the Huron / Wendat, Attiwandaronk, Erie, Wenro and other nations in the 1640s and 50s. They were "wiped off the map" since they were competitors in the lucrative beaver market of the time. The truth does not paint a pretty picture of the Six Nations, but if you can get Canadians to believe the spin - well then sympathy and support can be expected. So often truth gets in the way of what has been taught for years - the same c*^p I was taught and believed until I searched the original records then the house of cards tumbled before factual information.
It is unknown how the organizers will attempt to change things up for Sunday. They could have a few tricks up their sleeves to make their protest more effective. In reality, those driving down or up Highway 6 only knew that there was a problem ahead and that the OPP had established a detour. They would not have a clue as to the nature of the problem unless they had read about it in a local newspaper. Most people I saw as I stood at the OPP barricades just appeared confused or angry. The idea that the Harper Government (Federal) is going to be influenced by this very strange protest where those inconvenienced have no clue as to why they had to take a detour makes absolutely no sense. Even if the true intent was to put more pressure on the Wynne Government (Provincial) to settle the DCE matter in favour of the Hereditary Council - the actions can have no foreseeable impact.
One thing is certain in all this. The Ontario taxpayer was forced to once again expend untold sums of taxpayer dollars to "police" the protest. The sum should be added to the amount deducted from any potential settlement of fiscal issues surrounding the questionable land claims from 170 years ago. Surely fairness dictates that there have to be consequences when those who do not pay taxes to support, for example, the OPP services and the upkeep of for example Highway 6, put the burden on the shoulders of those in Caledonia and elsewhere who do pay taxes.
Without any doubt there is a double standard that works in favour of the Six Nations. How much longer will members of the Haldimand community be willing to tolerate this skewed state of affairs?