Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 6, 2017
Blockade down in Caledonia
An Indigenous barricade that blocked a main thoroughfare in Caledonia for close to a month has been dismantled.
Ontario Provincial Police say they asked demonstrators to leave the Highway 6 bypass Monday night.
“Once we responded, they eventually dispersed … on their own,” OPP spokesperson Const. Rodney LeClair said Tuesday.
The protesters had moved their roadblock from its original location at Argyle Street South to the Highway 6 bypass earlier Monday.
LeClair said police responded that evening because a “group was gathering” and using tires and trees to block a stretch of the bypass, which runs between Greens Road and Argyle Street South.
No one was arrested or injured, he said.
The OPP reopened Hwy. 6 Tuesday afternoon after the Ministry of Transportation’s maintenance contractor cleared the road.
LeClair said he hadn’t been told if demonstrators were still occupying the area around the bypass Tuesday.
“We’re remaining in the area just to preserve the peace like we’ve said from the onset, just maintain public safety,” he said.
Protesters who support the Six Nations hereditary government, known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, set up the barricade on Argyle Street South — Caledonia’s major thoroughfare — Aug. 10.
This spot — just south of town at the entrance of the former Douglas Creek Estates — is where a larger, more intense blockade and standoff took place in 2006 over land claims.
Indigenous people have renamed the site Kanonhstaton, “the protected place.”
This time around, demonstrators have said they were protesting the Ontario government’s transfer of a 154-hectare property known as the Burtch lands to the Six Nations Elected Band Council instead of the confederacy.
The return of the land, the former site of a correctional facility, was negotiated in exchange for the earlier barricade coming down more than 10 years ago.
On Monday, demonstrators issued a statement noting they had moved the barricade to the bypass “to unify the people of Six Nations and relieve pressure on our people and the residents of Caledonia.”
They erected a barricade on the bypass to “apply pressure on Canada to return to the negotiation table,” the statement reads.
It’s not clear what led the demonstrators to dismantle their barricade altogether or whether any issues were ironed out.
Protesters did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)