Demonstrators march in Caledonia to support land reclamation camp

·2 min read
Demonstrators march in Caledonia to support land reclamation camp
Demonstrators march in Caledonia to support land reclamation camp

A crowd marched past barriers and toward Caledonia Sunday, bearing signs in support of Six Nations of the Grand River members who have been blocking a nearby housing development.

The demonstrators danced, sang and drummed in front of provincial police standing on Argyle Street, shouting "land back" and "shut it down."

Representatives of several unions, including the Ontario Federation of Labour and CUPE Ontario, joined the march and tweeted pictures sharing messages of solidarity.

Members of Six Nations of the Grand River set up camp at the McKenzie Meadows housing development in July, dubbing it 1492 Land Back Lane.

They've occupied the site for 98 days, saying it's unceded Haudenosaunee territory.

On Thursday a judge granted a permanent injunction brought by developer Foxgate Development against the camp's presence, which has stopped construction of a subdivision.

The judge also granted an injunction against road blockades, which was requested by Haldimand County.

A few hours later, a confrontation between some members of Six Nations and the OPP by the back entrance to 1492 Land Back Lane, led camp members block road and highway access points to the two site entrances.

The barriers were expanded the following day, with a backhoe digging up the asphalt.

The Six Nations elected council, which was accommodated for the development, issued a statement Friday calling for "calm, peaceful and respectful relations on all sides."

It went on to acknowledge "tensions in our community" and said council recognizes the accommodation agreement is among concerns shared by community members.

"We want you to know that we did it because we thought it was a benefit to our community," the statement read.

"We have heard from many community members that they feel it was not the best decision for the Territory, and we are listening."

The council noted it's "bound to the agreement," but said its members have learned from it, pledging to "do better."

It also stated council is "disturbed" by the judge's decision to grant the injunctions, saying it "proves that systemic racism is alive and well in this country, including in the judicial system."

The property in question is part of the Haldimand Tract granted to Six Nations of the Grand River in 1784 for allying with the British during the American Revolution.

The granted land encompassed 10 kilometres on both sides of the 280-kilometre Grand River, which runs through southern Ontario and into Lake Erie. Six Nations now has less than five per cent of its original lands.

The Six Nations elected council has an ongoing court case, filed in 1995, against Ottawa and Ontario over lost lands. It is scheduled to go to trial in 2022.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett's office said in an emailed statement that it wants to meet with the community "at the earliest opportunity."