Guelph community supports Six Nations

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Written by Fraser Thomson

Over fifteen people made it out to St. Georges Square in downtown Guelph despite the rainy weather and short notice. At the rally over 300 pamphlets were handed out informing the public of the situation in Caledonia. The pamphlets also included contact information for various politicians and police bureaucrats. Community members were encouraged to contact these individuals and to voice their concerns about rising police pressure in the area. A reporter from the Guelph Mercury showed up to cover the event.

While the rally was going on other members of the Guelph community were handing out the same pamphlet in the University Centre at the University of Guelph.

At both events individuals were encouraged to sign letters addressed to the Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant; as of 1pm over 50 letters had been faxed to his office.

In addition to the two events, members of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and CUPE 1281 visited Ontario Liberal MPP Liz Sandals’ office to ask that she support a nation-to-nation resolution. This includes calling off police intervention and referring the situation to the federal government. It was also requested that Sandals make her position known in the Ontario Legislature and in the media and that she follow up with OPIRG.

The action in Guelph was part of a growing movement of solidarity across the country; similar solidarity actions have been held in Toronto, Montreal, Victoria, Saskatoon and Vancouver.

Over the past month and a half, first nations people from the Six Nations Reserve along with first nations peoples from around the country have been peacefully occupying land that is slated to become a housing development. The land, however, has at no point been surrendered to the government of Canada. In fact, it was formally recognized by the Crown as Six Nations territory as part of the 1784 Haldimand Deed. The nine acre area was subsequently registered as a land claim with the federal government in 1987. The Six Nations, in their submissions to Ottawa, stated that they remain uncompensated for many of the previous land appropriations in the past. The Six Nations reserve, which originally covered six miles to each side of the Grand River, has now been reduced to only 5% of that area.

Unfortunately, the legitimacy of the land claims has been sidelined to increasing police action. As of Tuesday April 11, OPP presence at the site of the Six Nations encampment has drastically increased. Approximately 60 police cruisers have been seen amassing near the site. A local school has been appropriated as police headquarters and cells in the Brantford jail are being emptied. The current OPP operation is an eerie reminder of the police build up before the Ipperwash Tragedy in 1995.

Members of the Guelph community have stated that they will continue to raise this issue in our community until police action is no longer a threat and a nation-to-nation solution can be negotiated.

For additional information regarding the situation in Caledonia please visit Gathering Place or CISOIA

or contact

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