Monthly Archives: April 2010

Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum


THE LETTER

Please add your signature  and circulate widely.

An Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum at Mount Royal University

As scholars, students and concerned citizens we are deeply troubled by the invitation of grass roots anti-Native organizers and leaders of the “Caledonia Militia” to the New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum to be held on May 5th, 2010 at Mount Royal University. Dr. Frances Widdowson personally invited Mark Vandermaas and Gary McHale to be discussants on a panel entitled “Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Rule of Law.” McHale and Vandermaas are leading figures in grassroots anti-Native organizing against the Six Nations people of the Grand River Territory in south-western Ontario; they have played key roles in the formation of a non-native “militia” aimed at repressing Indigenous land protests and they have also organized a variety of anti-Native protests, a number of which have attracted the support of neo-Nazis and far right racists. While Vandermaas and McHale claim to speak for Caledonians, their activities have consistently increased tensions in this community facing a well documented land claims dispute.

The groups that McHale and Vandermaas are involved with falsely describe Indigenous people resisting the ongoing theft of their land and the abrogation of treaty rights as “organized criminals”, “terrorists”, “lawless” and continually refer to Six Nations people protesting as “Native thugs.” McHale and Vandermaas describe themselves as ‘non-violent’ ‘human rights activists’ inspired by the vision of Martin Luther King, working to dismantle a “two-tiered justice system” that benefits Indigenous people. On March 21st 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, McHale organized an ‘anti-racist’ rally claiming that white people in the area are oppressed by ‘race-based policing’ and “Canadian Apartheid.” These alarming appropriations are an insult to the histories of anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles and to all who uphold anti-racism. The re-naming of anti-Native organizing as anti-racist struggle is an affront to the struggles of Indigenous peoples and peoples of color across the globe who have survived and continue to struggle against genocide, apartheid, and colonialism.  As scholars, students and people of conscience we need to expose the violence of this appropriation by McHale and Vandermaas, not legitimize it.

While McHale loves to sue people for defamation of his character, his inflammatory campaigns have smeared Six Nations grandmothers and mothers,  the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers,  Christian Peacemaker Teams, the provincial and Canadian governments and the OPP as either being “terrorists” or aiding and abetting “terrorism”.  McHale and Vandermaas consistently portray assertions of Indigenous sovereignty as lawless, terrorist, racist and evidence of what they term a “Native Supremacy Movement.” These understandings are not far removed from the perspectives of conference organizer, Dr. Frances Widdowson, who claims that “current demands for ‘aboriginal nationalism’ and ‘sovereignty’, because they connect land to ancestry, have more in common with the ideology of Nazi Germany than left-wing ideas.” Not surprisingly, while movements for Indigenous sovereignty gain little support from neo-Nazis, Gary McHale and his anti-Native activities certainly do.  Paul Fromm, a high profile white supremacist leader, best known for his support of holocaust denier Ernest Zundel, has actively publicized McHale and his events on the neo-nazi website Stormfront.  Fromm has been photographed at McHale led events, as have other members of neo-Nazi organizations such as the London, Ontario “Northern Alliance” group.

While McHale claims he is the “National voice of Caledonia”, neither he nor Vandermaas reside in Caledonia and they do not speak on behalf of all Caledonians. Indeed Mr. McHale was from 2007 to 2010 banned from entering Caledonia due to bail conditions stemming from the eruption of violence at one of his protests.  The Commissioner of the OPP has described McHale et al.’s actions as a ‘lightning rod’ for confrontation and violence. Many Caledonia residents are fed up with their antics, especially those who are working to heal the tensions between Caledonia and Six Nations.

We the undersigned condemn the “New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum’s” decision to give these anti-Native agitators an academic stage to parade their false allegations and half-truths.  Anti-Native activism and militias are not a “New Direction”, in Aboriginal policy, — in fact they represent a very old pattern of colonial activity that seeks to increase and justify violence and injustice against Indigenous peoples. We believe that the inclusion of McHale and Vandermaas in a discussion on Aboriginal Policy will serve to normalize racism, aggression, appropriation, and citizen-led militias as tools to solve localized conflicts over Indigenous lands, whereas what is needed is a recognition of Indigenous land rights, nation to nation negotiations and the peaceful settlement of land claims.  We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.

For more information and background on these issues, please go to https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/

TO SIGN THE LETTER:

The gopetition site has disabled the site because “GoPetition has received a legal opinion from Mr McHale arguing that contents of the petition constitute defamation in Canada. GoPetition does not offer any opinion as to whether these assertions are legally accurate. However, in these circumstances, we cannot continue to host your petition. Our actions are in no way a commentary on the validity or utility of the contents of your petition, but rather reflect our own internal policies.” It is of course interesting that the letter of protest above simply condemns the invitation of these anti-Native leaders to an academic forum on Aboriginal Policy, and that these anti-Native leaders have tried to assure that your voices will not be heard, all the while claiming that the letter is an attempt to silence them and Caledonia residents. As the letter asserts “We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.” If the petition were still up, you would be able to see that the majority of Caledonia residents ensured that their names remained anonymous to the public out of concern. As one Caledonia resident wrote: ” As a resident of Caledonia I can assure you that these people are NOT Caledonia’s National Voice. Out of concern for my family from the intimidation and retaliation these people and their followers wage, I sign “Anonymous”. I encourage ALL peoples of Caledonia and Six Nations to continue to build friendships and understanding. Together through communication we will find the key and “lasting peace” will be our answer. ”

To add your signature to this open letter, please email concernedacademics@gmail.com and we will add your name along with 286 names that have signed so far. Please include: your full name, email address, province, country, university or other affiliation and any comment you would like added to the petition. It is also encouraged that you send a letter of concern yourself directly to the Mount Royal Dean and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts:

Manuel Mertin, PhD Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: mmertin@mtroyal.ca

Sabrina Reed, PhD, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: sreed@mtroyal.ca

NEW INFORMATION:

Frances Widdowson and Mark Vandermaas have posted responses to this letter of Protest on their respective blogs. In both posts the authors claim that Vandermaas and McHale were never a part of the Caledonia “Militia.” Vandermaas was in attendance at the first meeting of the “Militia” in June of 2009, claimed on his blog that he fully supported it, and in a Brantford Expositor news article is described as a leader. McHale is the media spokesperson for this group. McHale also spoke at the first meeting for an hour, a clip of the speech given that day can be seen on the youtube link below. The clip is from CHCH news, and shows McHale telling the first meeting of the Caledonia “Militia” that citizens can pressure the OPP ‘into doing their jobs,’ by saying either you arrest that person “or I will.” After much negative media coverage McHale, the spokesperson for the group, announced that the group would be renamed the “Caledonia Peacekeepers” and claimed that naming the group “militia” was designed to create press for the group. Whatever the reasoning the group planned to effect citizens arrests of people engaging in what McHale has termed “native lawlessness.” While Flemming, a close associate of both Vandermaas and McHale, claimed that the group would arrest anyone breaking the law, the group was clearly organized with respect to Six Nations resistance to the ongoing theft of their land.

Caledonia “Militia”:
http://www.thespec.com/article/588406
www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/updates/090622simcoe.html
http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1615957
http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/PrintArticle.aspx?e=1636760
http://www.voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/caledonia-militia-seeks-volunteers-to-defend-haldimand-property-owners/
http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1622935
www.voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/cupe-and-criminals-work-together-against-haldimand-victims/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-inRqTEPGM

For further information on Gary McHale’s protests, police responses and former bail conditions please go to:
www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070120/caledonia_protest_071120?s_name=&no_ads=CTV
www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070419/caledonia_organizer_sued_070419?s_name=&no_ads=
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/crown-stays-mischief-charge-against-caledonia-ont-activist-gary-mchale-91741844.html
http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/748717–julian-fantino-vows-pushback

To see evidence of Neo-Nazi attendance and advertisement of McHale led events please go to:
https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/the-far-right/

To Read Widdowson’s and Vandermaas’ responses:

Widdowson: http://blogs.mtroyal.ca/fwiddowson/

Vandermaas: http://caledoniavictimsproject.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/native-militants-cupe-try-to-intimidate-university-into-silence-re-caledonia-victims/

Vandermaas’ response is entitled “Native militants & CUPE try to intimidate university into silence re Caledonia victims.” Once again any organizing against McHale and Vandermaas gets accorded to “Native Militants”. This letter was written by non-Native academics concerned by the invitation of two men to an academic forum who continuously cast Six Nations people protesting the continued theft of their land as “terrorists”, “militants”, “thugs,” “criminals”, “sociopaths” and as a part of a “Native Supremacy Movement.” They have gone so far as to post a picture of a Six Nations man with a KKK hood superimposed. Here is a link to a page posted on Caledonia Wake Up Call where author Gary McHale continuously refers to “the Natives,” and “their” shared ideology with the KKK.
http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/news/nativekkk.html

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Open Letter of Protest, Racism

Homebuilder says activist unwelcome at construction site

September 15, 2007 Saturday

Homebuilder says activist unwelcome at construction site

BYLINE: Michael-Allan Marion, the expositor

SECTION: LOCAL NEWS; Pg. A3

LENGTH: 441 words

A city homebuilder is livid that activist Gary McHale brought his protests against native actions at housing developments to his stalled construction site on Grand River Avenue.

McHale, of Richmond Hill, is known for his high-profile protests against an ongoing Confederacy occupation of the former Douglas Creek Estates subdivision in Caledonia.

McHale showed up with seven cohorts bearing Canadian flags and placards on Friday afternoon at the site of a townhouse development being undertaken by Mayberry Homes, owned by Mike Quattrociocchi.

They protested for a while, then left.

Quattrociocchi has already made clear his discomfort over his project having been made the latest target of Confederacy members protesting or temporarily occupying building projects in Haldimand County, Brant County and Brantford to bring attention to unresolved land claims.

But when he learned of McHale’s action, he immediately got on the phone to local politicians and the media to angrily insist he told the activist beforehand not to come to Brantford.

“I told him in no uncertain terms to stay away from my site,” the builder and former city councillor recounted in an interview.

“I said, ‘I don’t need your help.'”

Quattrociocchi said he had also e-mailed city police to inform them he didn’t want McHale on the property and made sure the unwanted activist knew that.

“So what does he do? He shows up anyway,” Quattrociocchi said.

“I want nothing to do with McHale. All he’s trying to do is continue his natives-against-non-natives thing. Nobody needs this. I don’t want to fight anyone. Fighting’s too easy.”

McHale did not return phone calls for comment on Quattrociocchi’s statements.

During the action by the McHale entourage, Shari Manto of nearby Hilda Street walked over to the site. She told McHale she was not impressed that he was disrupting the neighbourhood and walked away.

Quattrociocchi said that while he’s angry at the inaction of the federal and provincial governments in the growing land claims dispute, he’s trying as hard as he can to keep the action at his site from exploding into violence.

“For the first time in a long time in my life I’m scared. I don’t want people to get hurt and I’m afraid they will.”

Mayor Mike Hancock was also unhappy about McHale’s protest.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the city, the developer or anyone else for that matter to inflame an already difficult situation,” he said.

“This kind of thing doesn’t help when you’re trying to find solutions.”

“For the first time in a long time in my life I’m scared. I don’t want people to get hurt and I’m afraid they will.”

Mike Quattrociocchi, Brantford homebuilder

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Filed under Brantford Expositor, Gary McHale, Mainstream Media, Uncategorized

McHale flees, dialogue happens

By Deb O’Rourke

On March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, the Lions Club parking lot in Caledonia is nearly empty except for three flags that flutter in the breeze. While the red and yellow warrior flag and the blue and white chain of Six Nations stand tall, the third flutters red and white between the handlebars of Luke’s bike. The sixteen year old Caledonian threads around the parking lot, bravely alone with his Canadian flag.

These are the first arrivals for a rally called by Merlyn Kinrade to protest “two-tier policing” and discrimination against white people in Caledonia. The guest speaker will be Gary McHale, a right-wing activist from Thornhill whose agitating has made him a major thorn in the side of the OPP.

But before McHale arrives, anti-racist activists from Toronto, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford and Caledonia start to trickle in, to add their own contribution to the argument. As they wait for the rally to begin, the visitors line up on the roadside, greeting passing cars with banners that say things like “McHale is not an anti-racist”, “No to Racism” and “Negotiate Don’t Escalate”.

What especially disturbs these activists, summoned by CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG), and what has drawn me to Caledonia to witness the event, is the appropriation of Martin Luther King’s words to support an anti-native cause.

Niki Thorne of FNSWG explains: “These right-wingers say that they’re anti-racist, that they’re fighting for equality for all. But what they’re really calling for is an end to all land rights and treaty rights for all First Nations people…They’re taking some of the most important principles that we hold dear and are misappropriating them in order to increase tensions and divisions between Six Nations people and Caledonia. Whether they admit it or not, their activity increases the potential for violence against First Nations people.”

Alex Jamieson of Six Nations “wasn’t too sure” about the idea of non-Native supporters of Six Nations showing up to this rally. But now he says: “These people supporting the Six Nations struggle aren’t violent. They’re just expressing their point.… I think it’ll serve a couple of purposes: it’ll bring the issues to the forefront again because its been stagnated for four years. And it brings these two groups face to face.

You’re going to see something. Maybe yelling and shouting, maybe dialogue but at least something’s happening.”
Suddenly, young Luke is not alone with his flag: the organizers of the rally have arrived. The press, including me, chases them for shots and quotes. Most refuse offers of leaflets from the visiting activists, and don’t want to be named. One man who is more than willing to be named turns out to be a right-wing web-media star, London-based Mark Vandermaas who, through his web-site Voice of Canada.ca is one of the promoters of this white-rights appropriation of Martin Luther King’s message.

He tells me he is preparing to talk at the rally about what he refers to as “2-tier justice”: “The issue of whether there is racialized policing or not is not in question any more. It is not a topic of debate. It’s a fact recognized by every major media outlet in Canada. So it’s time to apologize.

“We’re not against Native people. We just want everybody to be treated equally under the law.”
When I ask him if he is aware of the arrests of over 100 Six Nations people on the contested Caledonia ground and elsewhere, he responds: “Let’s talk about the ones who weren’t arrested…”

Then we are both drawn away by the sound of cheers and jeering. To shouts of “Boo! Get a job! Shut up! Go home!” 3903’s Tom Keefer is speaking through a portable sound system and thanking Gary McHale for “taking the initiative” to gather so many locals “to take a stand against racism in Caledonia.”

Then we all get a shock.

In his booming voice, McHale announces that the rally is cancelled: “This should not be allowed. If the natives held a rally here and we tried to approach them, the police would stop us… What’s happening here happens all the time. The natives are permitted to mingle amongst our group until violence breaks out and we get the blame because how dare we hold a rally. So this is now cancelled.

“We’re back here next Sunday at 2 o’clock. We’ll do it every week until the OPP obey their own policies.”
In fact, most of the people here are white: about a hundred who seem to have gathered with McHale, and nearly as many who were called out by FNSWG. As the speech-making, heckling and conversations continue. McHale returns, to try to herd his reluctant flock: “Next week. Don’t argue with anybody. Just go home.”

After calling out a final warning “They’ll try to work you up!” he is gone, with a number of supporters and media.
But over a hundred people remain in the parking lot. With McHale gone, conversation breaks out among visiting anti-racists, locals, and a few Native people. Most people still don’t want to give their names, but I slide from group to group to catch snatches of argument.

FNSWG’s Katie Milley is having an earnest discussion with a gentle middle-aged Caledonia man. When she tells him “What needs to happen is that the government needs to take responsibility,” he agrees: “You’re preaching to the choir there: I wish all land claims were settled yesterday.”

But when they discuss whether the land reclaimed from the proposed Caledonia housing development belongs to Six Nations, he tells her politely: “I’m going to probably disagree with you on that.”

As three smiling teenage girls chant “Caledonia! Caledonia!” locals in hockey jackets are arguing with and teasing young Toronto activists with multiple piercings and strange hair. There is anger, laughter and sometimes ridiculing. But let’s face it, whether you are a stressed-out Caledonian, an embattled Six Nations or a sleep-deprived activist, you sometimes need to vent a little.

One Caledonia mom confronts a young man with naughty words printed on his hoodie. The conversation goes like this:
Fuck White Supremacy hoodie: “I think that by blocking the road you’re going to get the government to listen…
Hockey jacket: “Oh, it affects shit. No–those people should go to McGuinty’s house and keep him in there and see how he feels.”

Friend of hoodie: “Oh, yeah!”

Hoodie: “That’d be good. We gotta occupy Queen’s park. We gotta take over.”

Hockey jacket: “And it’s got to be a lot of people. It’s got to be huge. There’s nothing we’d want more. I’m with that.”

They start laughing at the idea of governing together.

Meanwhile, an intense conversation takes place between a Native and a non-Native man:

Non-Native: “I don’t have anything against anyone because they may happen to live on a reserve, but I’m opposed to the idea of the reserve itself. I don’t like the concept because to me it’s like apartheid.”

Native guy. “South African apartheid was based on the Canadian reserve system. Do you see the irony of using a day that was set up because that apartheid system was destroyed, and then coming here to say that white people are oppressed by native people when it was the reserve system for native people that was the base for South African apartheid?”

This is a timely argument. The International Day for the Elimination of Racism commemorates the day that police opened fire on anti-apartheid demonstrators in Sharpeville, South Africa, killing 69 people. This is the kind of thing that could happen if the OPP took the kind of action people like McHale and Vandermaas advocate. The OPP tried it once, resulting in beatings and many of the criminal charges that Six Nations faces. But hundreds of Six Nations residents left their beds and pushed the taser-wielding OPP off the land that night.

To nearly everyone’s surprise, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism is a pretty good day in Caledonia, resembling the family reunion of a feisty clan. Well, good for everyone except McHale. It appears that even as Caledonians and visitors are conversing, McHale is busy at his typewriter, proving Six Nations member Vince Gilcrist’s contention that he is a “master manipulator” who “puts spins on things” and has “nothing good to say about the natives.”

In a letter to Rick Bartolucci, Commissioner Julian Fantino and Insp. John Periversoff, McHale claims that on this day “the OPP refused to perform their duty and instead endangered the residents of Caledonia by allowing Native Protesters and their supporters to physically confront residents who had gathered for a peaceful protest.”

This letter blames the few Native people present for his discomfort and claims to have “diffused (sic) the situation” by canceling his rally.

It didn’t happen that way, Gary. I was there.

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Merlyn Kinrade

Rally shows who the true antiracists are, and it’s not Gary McHale and friends

April 01, 2010

Alyson Mccready
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 1, 2010)

Gary McHale used March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to stage an “antiracist” rally on behalf of white people in Caledonia, showed up again the next weekend, and says he intends to keep at it.

This kind of “reverse-discrimination” logic fundamentally misunderstands contemporary power relations in Canadian society. “Reverse-discrimination” is a fallacy that assumes all groups exist on an equal playing field, outside of history. In this case, not only is the field slanted, the field itself has been stolen.

The Day to End Racism has its roots in the long and bloody struggle against South African apartheid. Most people now agree this is an obvious example of an undemocratic system of racist inequality that preserved the privilege and power of the white, colonial-settlers at the expense of indigenous Africans.

But systems of racial discrimination and inequality have a way of seeming more complex when you’re in the midst of them. International scholars and human rights activists are now referring to Canada as an “apartheid” country because of its discriminatory treatment of indigenous peoples, the racialized economic segregation of many Canadian cities, and the legacy of apartheid like laws and residential schools.

Since diverse, multicultural communities having been getting together on March 21 to mourn and to celebrate our common humanity, the Day to End Racism has come under attack by some who feel left out of the party. Some of these are social conservatives who don’t see why we have to go making a fuss about racial diversity.

It’s like Mother’s Day: your kids might say to you “why isn’t there a special day for us kids?” The answer, of course, is that children receive special recognition every day, and so it is with white people in our society. One influential scholar, Peggy McIntosh, kept track of all the invisible little “perks” that she benefited from, just for being white. Many white people around the world participate in the Day to End Racism by reflecting on these unearned privileges and participating in rallies and social events that solidify our commitment to building stronger, more inclusive shared communities.

Then there are far-right and fascist groups that are ideologically committed to maintaining and guarding white privilege, who mobilize against this day (and others) to try to intimidate people of colour and antiracist activists, such as the demonstration in Calgary last week. They often claim to be against racism themselves, only against racism-against-white-people.

McHale used this opportunity to once again bask in the light of public notoriety, staging an “anti-racist” rally on behalf of Caledonia’s white people and claiming that they experience racism and victimization by police and government. McHale has yet to explain why it is that his rhetoric is so appealing to known white supremacists who attend his rallies.

McHale and company erect a “straw man” of “native lawlessness” to steer public attention away from the source of the conflict: The failure of the Canadian government to live up to its obligations to Native people under international law.

International treaty laws, upon which our nation was founded, are the only thing that gives Canada legal legitimacy as a sovereign nation. When we break them, we are actually breaching the terms of our own sovereignty. Canada has allowed settlers, over several generations, to move in on land it swore to reserve and protect, at a time when Natives were prevented from even hiring lawyers. It set up a land-claims system that sees the Canadian government play the accused, judge, jury and executioner.

Numerous international legal scholars agree that Canada’s treatment of Native people constitutes genocide under Article Two of the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on Genocide (which, shamefully, Canada still refuses to sign).

In a way, it’s no wonder that some Caledonians have supported — or wearily tolerated — McHale billing himself as their spokesman: there is an appalling lack of public education about our shared Indigenous-settler history.

In addition, Caledonians have been largely abandoned by a government that is trying very hard to find a way to avoid honouring its legally binding promises, because of the size of the price tag. Caledonians have been sacrificed to a history of racism and apartheid against Native people that our government refuses to take responsibility for redressing.

To put it bluntly, whether non-natives like it or not, Native people aren’t going anywhere. Neither is the history that led us to this point, nor the legal and moral obligations Canada has to rectify the situation. Rather than just a “Native issue,” this is a settler issue, likely the Canadian issue of the 21st century. It’s about how we want our own communities and governments to behave. Anti-racism means taking this history and responsibility seriously.

McHale and his dubious associates do nothing except fan the flames of racism, ignorance and violence. His demonstration on Sunday was overshadowed by the presence of genuine antiracist activists who condemned his bombastic showmanship and demanded just and lasting solutions from our government, solutions that would prevent future situations like this.

They, and not McHale, acted in the true spirit of the Day for the Elimination of Racism.

Alyson McCready is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. She studies Canadian national identity, colonialism and critical race studies.

http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/746238

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, CANACE, Gary McHale, Hamilton Spectator, Racism, White Supremacists