Argyle Street, Caledonia, is blocked by protesters from Six Nations in a move that has many residents fearful of a return to the tensions there a decade ago over the Douglas Creek Estates.
This morning some of the Haudenosaunee protesters approached and explained their issues and demands.
They said they were awarded the Burtch Lands by the government in exchange for taking down the barricades on Argyle Street about 10 years ago, but that in April, Ontario passed the land to the Six Nations elected council, which they call the right arm of the government, instead of the traditional leadership of Haudenosaunee Chiefs, and a woman who had been farming the land was forced off, who was apparently fighting the injunction in court today.
At 8:30 yesterday morning, barricades went up in the same place they went up in 2006. The Haudenosaunee say the barrier will not come down until their three demands are met:
1. That provincial and federal governments sit down for more land claims negotiation
2. That the injunction against the farmer be removed so she can go back to farming the Burtch Lands
3. The Burtch Lands be returned to the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council instead of the elected council
The OPP say they were aware of the dispute between band council and the Haudenosaunee confederacy over the Burtch Lands, and had a plan in place in case of a blockade like this. The plan does not include removing the blockade and drivers have to find another way through town.
It has been peaceful but residents of Caledonia are upset about losing a major access to their town, and they’re worried this could escalate once again.
Many people said they were nervous as they remembered too well the violence here a decade ago.
Bonnie Stephens came to the scene to speak to police and protesters. She was arrested in 2007 to prevent a breach of the peace. She was carrying a Canadian flag.
“It was very scary with violent people. One of my friends homes backed onto that and she’ll never be the same. I just don’t understand why the police are allowing this to happen again. If I did this I’d be gone. They’re saying they’ve learned negotiations are the way to go, don’t you remember Ipperwash? I said don’t bring that up again. You should have learned from what happened there.”