Caledonia land dispute: Key Land Back Lane figures make court appearances

·2 min read

Skyler Williams, spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, was among the 26 people connected to the ongoing land dispute in Caledonia whose criminal cases came up at the Cayuga courthouse on Tuesday.

Hearings for nearly all defendants — alleged to have disobeyed court injunctions preventing the unauthorized occupation of the McKenzie Meadows construction site and Haldimand roadways — were put off until Feb. 23, giving lawyer Ian McCuaig time to have pretrial discussions with the Crown.

Prosecutors are seeking summary convictions for Williams and other land defenders and allies, including policy analyst Courtney Skye, spoken word artist Kahsenniyo Williams, and Indigenous advocate Myka Burning.

Starla Myers of Real Peoples Media, represented by lawyer Stephen John Ford, will be back in court Feb. 9. At the time of her arrest, Myers said Indigenous journalists were being “silenced” by the OPP through selective enforcement of the injunctions.

If convicted, the accused face a maximum fine of $5,000 and two years less a day in prison.

Audra Taillefer of Six Nations stands charged with arson, intimidation, and a breach of the Railway Safety Act. Taillefer, who is represented by lawyer Sarah Dover, will also return to court on Feb. 9.

The arrest of musician Tom Wilson made headlines in mid-October. The Hamilton rocker said he was arrested “for delivering food to land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane, and also I went with a few other musicians to perform for the families there.”

Wilson’s lawyer, Angela Chiasson, said the Crown cancelled a pretrial for Wilson that had been scheduled for Monday. Chiasson said the prosecutor told her “they were going to look at the matter” ahead of Wilson’s next court appearance on March 2.

The Land Back Lane online legal fund has raised approximately $415,000. Skyler Williams said the money will be used to defend what he called “the continuation of the criminalization of land defenders and settler allies.”

Police have arrested approximately 40 people in connection with the occupation, with more arrests expected.

Charges against Indigenous journalist Karl Dockstader were dropped last month.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator