Honouring our historical agreements through shared action
by Dan Kellar, The Dominion, May 14
On April 28th 2012, a thousand Canadians from across Southern Ontario participated in the Walk, Rally, and Potluck for Peace, Respect, and Friendship and joined with Indigenous land defenders and families who are tired of the inaction and disrespect shown by all levels of Canadian government, to demand that Six Nations land rights be respected.
KITCHENER, ON—If you travel south along the winding 50-kilometres stretch of the Grand River between Kitchener and Caledonia, you will pass farms fields, forests, a sprawling patchwork of towns with their own industrial sites and golf courses, finally coming to the edge of the Six Nations reserve, and eventually, Kanonhstaton, the “protected place”—a site of Haudenosaunee land reclamation and defense. A brief walk from Caledonia’s downtown, the site is still identifiable by the downed hydro tower at the entrance just off the highway, and the skeleton of the trailer burned in early 2008 by a gang of anti-reclamation settlers.
Located on the boundary between the Six Nation reserve and the settler town of Caledonia, Kanonhstaton has brought Indigenous land rights to the forefront of national attention over and over again in the past six years, gaining prominence rarely seen in land occupations since the 1990 Oka standoff.
Kanonhstaton is about reclaiming the land and stopping a housing development known as the Douglas Creek Estates. The initial action by the group of around twenty, mostly woman Indigenous land defenders was met with little protest locally, and instead garnered widespread support from settler allies.
But on April 20, 2006, the Ontario Provincial Police carried out a violent raid on the site, during which OPP tore open tents, tasered, pepper sprayed, beat, and ultimately, arrested 16 Indigenous people. That day, hundreds from the reserve flooded to the site in response to the raid, ejected the police, and proceeded to build road blockades. Following this unsuccessful eviction attempt, groups of white settlers began organising citizen councils and anti-native and anti-reclamation rallies, under a call for a return to the “rule of law and order.”