By Amelia Murphy-Beaudoin
Six years have passed since the reclamation project began in Caledonia, and the government has yet to honour the treaty and land rights of the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
In 2006 they began the reclamation by occupying the land called Kanonhstaton (“the Protected Place”), also known as Douglas Creek Estates. They set up barricades and burned the injunctions served to them to vacate the site. The OPP raided, and were pushed back by First Nations and allied groups, including community members. Several people were arrested and charged.
The Haudenosaunee claim legal ownership of this land under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, in which the First Nations was allotted a section of land that includes Kanonhstaton. The land was never sold, but the Canadian government does not respect that it is a living document and has not honoured the treaty.
The tension in Caledonia has been intensifying. The mayor and council of Haldimand county are vocal opponents to the First Nations community, and a part of the broader community in Caledonia is frustrated by the ways that the reclamation has impacted their property value and prevented commercial and industrial development.
A group of non-native community members calling themselves CANACE (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality) have launched a campaign in opposition to the reclamation project, and what they call “native lawlessness” and “land claim terrorism”. Another group, called the Caledonia Victims Project works with CANACE. Together they are propagandizing with what they call “reverse racism” and mixing it with language of the1960s civil rights movement, proclaiming its work to be part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.
In 2009, CANACE established the “Caledonia Militia”. In 2010 they organized an “anti-racist” rally on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to bring attention to what they call “race-based policing” that discriminates against white people. Recently, a 17-year-old Caledonia resident in an attempted suicide attack drove his car full speed into one of the main houses on the reclamation site.
The source of all this tension is the unwillingness of the Canadian government and the British crown to address historic injustices and honour the agreements they made.
April 28: walk for peace, respect and friendship
A greeting has been circulated from the Land Protectors of Kanonhstaton to native and non-native allies for a walk to celebrate the principles of Peace, Respect and Friendship on April 28. The march and rally will be focussed on building relationships between native and non-native communities, and celebrating how the reclamation project has brought people together and been an opportunity to teach people about treaties and land claim issues.
We must stand in solidarity with the Haudenosaunee by building stronger ties with the First Nations community—through learning about their struggle and raising awareness, and by joining the long standing resistance against colonialism.
The invitation from Land Protectors of Kanonhstaton says “whether native or non-native, all of us residing within Canada are treaty people. We have both a moral and a legal imperative to uphold the nation-to-nation agreements made on our behalf by the British Crown and Canadian government with indigenous peoples.”
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Facebook: Kanonhstaton Six Nations
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