On 27 February 2011, over one hundred Six Nations solidarity activists gathered to hold a truth and reconciliation rally and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the reclamation of Kanonhstaton (the Douglas Creek Estates) by people of the Six Nations on 28 February 2006. Coinciding with the solidarity celebration was the counter “truth and reconciliation” rally held by Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE).
Gary McHale organizes a “Truth and Reconciliation” rally in Caledonia, demanding that the OPP, the government, and Six Nations people apologize to the “victims” of Caledonia. They attempt to erect an “apology” monument at kanonhstaton (the reclamation site).
Thanks to biased media coverage, by the likes of Christie Blatchford, most Ontarians know Gary McHale as a “civil rights activists” or the guy who pressed charges against Fantino in relation to the Six Nations land reclamation or “Caledonia Crisis”. For five years now McHale and company have been escalating tensions in Caledonia, trying to erect various things on Six Nations land and to march on it. Following the patterns of white backlash movements since the 1960s, they misappropriate the language of the civil rights movement and make the unfounded claim that white people are the victims of racism and race based policing. McHale goes so far as to compare his work to that of Dr. Martin Luther King’s, even while in 2009 he helped to form the defunct “Caledonia Militia.” On Feb 27th McHale and Mark Vandermaas held a “Truth and Reconciliation Rally” to ERECT an apology monument on Six Nations reclaimed land (psychoanalysts would have a field day with this). Outrageously they wanted the Six Nations to issue an apology to Caledonia, akin to the one given by the Canadian government for residential schools. The violence inherent in such a move and this sickening comparison is obvious. It is no wonder, then, that right-wing extremists and white supremacists have long been supporters of Gary McHale.
Paul Fromm, one of the leading white supremacists in Canada, and best known for his support of holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, has advertised McHale-led events on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. In fact Fromm has also attended several of McHale’s rallies. While McHale and Vandermaas steadfastly deny any connections to explicit white supremacist movements, the public should be aware that these men are forging ties to extreme right-wing groups even as they have the support of several elected Ontario politicians including PC leader Tim Hudak, MPP Toby Barrett, and MPP Randy Hillier. Vandermaas has made connections to members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a group identified in a FBI report as a “right-wing terrorist group”. Recently McHale and Vandermaas linked up with the International Free Press Society (IFPS). Several articles and announcements by them can be found on IFPS’s website, , and the VP of IFPS Canada was supposed to speak at McHale’s rally on Feb 27th . The IFPS was founded by Lars Hedegaard, a Danish man recently charged with anti Muslim/Islamophobic hate crimes. In 2011 McHale and Vandermaas authored a letter in support of Hedegaard as well as Danish MP Jesper Langballe also charged with hate crimes. On Vandermas’ blog you can find a speech given by Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Dutch Freedom Party. The speech is noteworthy as it bears an uncanny resemblance to Nazi propaganda grounded in anti-Semitic fears of a vast “Jewish conspiracy” to take over the entire world, for Wilder however this fear is of an “Islamic conspiracy.” Wilder has been brought up on 5 charges of inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims. While McHale and Vandermaas claim they are ‘anti-racist’ ‘non-violent’ activists inspired by Dr. King, their language, actions and connections reveal a much different story.
As Ontarians we should be gravely concerned by the formation of these kinds of political movements and the racist ideas they promote. Certainly we can all recognize this is not the path to Truth or Reconciliation.
Kate Milley is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, her research looks at historical and contemporary anti-Native movements in Canada.
I am getting very sick of reading Toronto columnists and mainstream media types perpetuating the grossly inaccurate perceptions of the Caledonia/Six Nations situation at told by Christie Blatchford in her book Helpless.
Since its release, others are going viral with these half-truths and fabrications.
Unlike Blatchford, who admits to not really knowing much about the situation before the Dave Brown/Dana Chatwell trial, I was there, on the ground, during the time frame Blatchford describes and afterwards.
Now, in his list of native atrocities in Caledonia, another arms-length author refers to arson attacks. Yes, there were — but they were all directed against the natives by non-native extremists and not the other way around as implied. In fact, there were four such attacks, two of which could easily have resulted in fatalities.
Any of us who were there know that the barricades came down a long time ago, the tire fires went out hours after they were lit on April 20, 2006, following the armed attack on a handful of sleeping natives and non-native supporters. There were no firearms allowed on the site even at the tensest of times, no crazed warriors running through people’s homes carrying AK-47’s with Russian insignia, and there never was. There were no arms stashes or tunnels under the soil of Douglas Creek, and there never was; Burtch is not being set up as an airfield for clandestine Warrior ops to fly in and out of, and there is no reason to continue with this BS any longer. That is, of course, unless some out-of-town opportunists see money in it.