Native Leader Speaks to Students
Friday, September 22, 2006
Six Nations spokesperson Hazel Hill was at the University of Guelph on Thursday to speak to students and community members about the land reclamation in Caledonia this spring. Filling in for Chief Allan MacNoughton, who was unable to attend due to a death in the community, Hill spoke to a crowd of about 30 people.
She began by describing the events leading up to the occupation of land on what was going to be a housing development in Caledonia, claiming that the land legally belonged to the Six Nations People of the area, and describing the unique role that women played in the events.
In February 2006 a group of Six Nations people began to occupy the land that was going to be used for the housing development, the occupation resulted in an April 20th raid by the OPP during which Hill says she was “kneed and kicked” by police and her step-son was “shot in the back with a tazer.”
The events of that day resulted in hundreds more protesters arriving and eventually blocking the road into the development. The next few months were marked by tense standoffs between protesters, police and residents of Caledonia, until the last barricades came down in June. Throughout the presentation a DVD played in the background recounting the events of the summer.
Hill says that the removal of the barricades in June 2006 has been followed by an “ongoing dialogue and process” over the fate of the disputed land between the provincial and federal government and the Six Nations People of Caledonia.
“It’s the land that’s important not the money”, Hill stressed throughout the presentation. Although she says she feels the negotiations are going at a “snails pace,” she feels that the events have marked a resurgence of the people and “new beginning for Six Nations.”
“On April 20th they saw just how committed to the land we were,” she explains.
She also described the unique role that women played in the entire process, reporting that they were the ones who pushed for non-violent resistance.
“Our men have totally respected the wishes of the clan mothers by not bringing weapons to the site, ”she insists.
Hill expressed gratitude for the amount of international support the community has received, through emails and the Internet, from aboriginal and non-aboriginal people all over the world.
“This site is about more than just Six Nations, it’s about resisting not through war but through peace,” she explains.
The presentation was followed by a spirited discussion between students, Hill and community members about the land dispute.