Category Archives: Racism

On “keeping it local” and “keeping it peaceful” in Caledonia

blog post by Laura McDonald, Kitchener-Waterloo

Yesterday, I participated in a “Peace, Respect, and Friendship” celebration, including a march from Caledonia to Kanonhstaton, the reclamation site just outside of town, and a gigantic party including a bouncy castle, spoken word, speeches, music, and a gigantic potluck.

It was overwhelmingly – no, exclusively – positive. The event was wonderful. I find it bizarre that we needed to reassure people that it was going to be (and now, that it was) “positive” and “nonviolent”. It frustrates me that anyone would assume it wouldn’t be. But I will reassure you anyway: the onlyhositility I witnessed at all today was from people opposed to the event.

But I don’t want to talk about that.

While walking through Caledonia, I saw a restaurant with a sign saying “Keep it local. Keep it peaceful.” A friend of mine took this as a semi-positive thing – at least they were engaging with the issue in a not-overtly-hostile way. That’s a valid way of looking at it, for sure. I, however, saw it as representative of some pretty big misunderstandings that I want to address.

1. Keep it peaceful. I’ll do this one first because it’s easier (and because it’s not what I really want to talk about). Combined with the guy carrying the “anarchists go home” sign all over the place, I saw this as reflecting a common lack of understanding of who activists and anarchists are and what they do.

Always being told to make sure our protests are “peaceful” (and thus “valid”) takes away any agency that we have in just being peaceful because we were going to be anyway. It’s always a surprise that we were peaceful, or assumed that we were forced into being peaceful by the police presence. Like with the recent rainbow demo at UW, this assumption that we need to be told to be peaceful is really insulting and perpetuates a lot of dangerous myths about activism – and people in general. (It also perpetuates a lot of problematic ideas about what constitutes a valid form of protest or civic engagement, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms!)

More specifically, people apparently thought “G20 Anarchists” were going to come to town and smash windows. Um, what? If you know anything at all about anarchists, you know that’s an absurd (and I mean really absurd) thing to think with respect to this event. But most people don’t know very much about anarchists, and don’t try to. For the record, these “G20 Anarchists” were there. Some even played key roles in the explicitly peaceful event, because THIS (walk, make giant banners, prepare food for giant potlucks, arrange busses, show support, etc) is what they do, far more often than smashing windows.

I also think this “keep it peaceful” statement could reflect a fundamentally racist assumption (which is also, importantly, rooted in a complicated experience that I absolutely cannot speak to) that anything relating to Six Nations and the reclamation site is likely to NOT be peaceful. This is clearly wrong, and I hope today helped clear that up.

I think there are reasons people have these misguided notions, in both cases. I hope we can all keep working to dispel these illusions.

2. Keep it local. This statement was clearly directed at the hundreds of people who bussed in from other cities. This says “you don’t live here; you don’t understand; this isn’t your issue”. I fundamentally disagree with this argument pretty much across the board. Indigenous rights, environmental destruction, “development”, nuclear power, civil rights, human rights absuses, whatever – we are all affected and thus have a stake in these things no matter where they’re happening. It’s incredibly dangerous to think we can only fight for justice in our own communities, and we can’t let people tell us that’s how it should be. The boundaries that denote “local” issues are false, in many ways, and I think we all have the right (and duty) to have a say in things going on elsewhere and also to ask others to join in solidarity when dealing with so-called “local” conflicts, as non-native allies were asked to join today.

But in this case there’s also a much more specific reason this bothered me. This is what I want to talk about. While I get why people in Caledonia might feel this way, to an extent, I don’t think that many people (in Caledonia, or here on Facebook) understand that this is local for me. This is local for all of us. Yesterday wasn’t just about Caledonia, or Six Nations, or Kanonhstaton. This is about the entire Haudenosaunee territory, on which I live. On which many of the people who came to the event live. This is about all of the territories on which all of us live.

This event was about the treaties to which we are all beholden, and which we, as settlers, need to fight for, because they have not been upheld by our government, at any level, and it is our responsibility to change that. It is our responsibility to recognize the tremendous harm that has been done – and is still being done – by the immense and intentional dismissal of these treaties by the Canadian government.

We are all treaty people, and we need to start acting like it.

*for more photos from the event see http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/photo/marchrally-solidarity-six-nation-reclamation-april-28/10683

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Filed under 6NSN, April 28, Caledonia, decolonization, Haldimand Tract, Kitchener-Waterloo, Racism, Uncategorized

April 28th Coalition BBQ A Success: Walk for “Peace, Respect and Friendship” draws condemnation from local Caledonia politicians

from: Toronto Media Coop,
April 16

On Saturday April 7, 2012, the April 28th Coalition held a community BBQ and passed out information on the upcoming walk and celebration for “Peace, Respect and Friendship” on April 28, 2012.

The walk is a commemoration of both the 6th year anniversary of the reclamation of Kanonhstaton (former Douglas Creek Estates) of February 28, 2006, and the Ontario Provincial Police armed raid with automatic weapons, pepper spray, and tasers against people from Six Nations who were peacefully reclaiming disputed land near the town of Caledonia, Ontario, on  April 20, 2006. The land claim remains unresolved.

The community BBQ at Kinsmen Park was a fitting place along the Grand River to hold the BBQ and it was busy with families and others taking walks, people fishing, and those just enjoying the beautiful spring day. “We spoke to hundreds of people enjoying a beautiful long weekend along a beautiful river. Everyone was polite and attentive,” said Eugene Jonathan from Six Nations. “We had to buy more hot dogs and photocopy more flyers to give out. The day was a success.”

Two days before the BBQ, officials from Haldimand County emailed the April 28th Coalition urging the group to cancel the BBQ for “important public health and liability considerations”. The day of the BBQ, a Caledonia city councilor voiced his displeasure with the BBQ taking place in his Ward and the O.P.P. even showed up to see what was happening. The officer left after he was given some information about the event.

The walk has been the focus of many rumours and organizers of the April 28th Coalition handed out flyers promoting the public info night on Thursday April 19 at the Caledonia Public Library. “The Coalition is working hard to inform Caledonians about what we are planning for the walk,” said Laura Lepper, organizer with the Coalition. “One of the most important parts of our outreach work includes one-on-one conversations with Caledonians’ about the issues and the 28th event. This successful work has shown that we can’t underestimate the power of this method of grassroots organizing.”

The walk itself has caused stirrings in town as Mayor Ken Hewitt has urged Coalition members to cancel the walk, referring to the current situation as a “quagmire”. Mayor Hewitt told the Dunnville Chronicle on April 3, 2012 that he could “appreciate the intent” of the April 28th organizers, but that “I believe taking this into the heart of the community is not the right way to do it.” As the date for the walk gets closer, Hewitt’s condemnation grows sharper. On April 13, 2012, Hewitt told the Chronicle:

“They have no idea what they are doing or could possibly do to the relationships that are just starting to come together … They don’t care. They’re so entrenched and selfishly absorbed in their own agenda that nothing else matters. At what point does the desire to stand up for their rights infringe on our right? I believe they’ve crossed it and as I’ve said to them before, stay out of my community. You’re not welcome.”

Luke Stewart, an organizer with the April 28th Coalition and lifelong settler on the Grand River, has stated into response to Hewitt’s claims that outsiders are not welcome:

“What happens in one region along the Grand River watershed impacts and influences the whole watershed. I can think of no other group of people to organize for Six Nations land rights and to build relationships with than those whose traditional territory we inhabit and those who have settled on the Grand River. Incidentally, none of this will matter if our grandchildren, native and non-native, cannot drink the water, breath the air, or grow their own food because of politicians with short-term solutions and unrestrained land developments. We need to organize our communities around our watersheds and the health of those watersheds – not for the profits of land developers.”

The Coalition has said that it is not asking for anything more than the treaties and agreements with Six Nations be respected and that the solution to the “Caledonia crisis” can be found within those treaties.

For more information, visit: www.april28.net

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Filed under April 28, Brantford, Caledonia, Dunnville Chronicle, Haldimand Tract, Organizations, Racism

Responding to Anti-Muslim and Anti-Native Racists

Anti Racist Action (ARA) and the First Nations Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG) are calling on all anti-racist allies and activists in London, Toronto and Ottawa to mobilize opposition and respond to the racist and anti-Muslim/Islamophobic Dutch politician and leader of the Anti-Islamic Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, who will be speaking on May 8th in London, May 9th in Toronto and May 10th in Ottawa.

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, FNSWG, Gary McHale, London, Mark Vandermas, Open Letter of Protest, Racism, Toronto, White Supremacists

Anti-Native Rights Activist Gary McHale Charged with Assault

Anti-Native Rights Activist Gary McHale Charged with Assault

A public statement by Tom Keefer

March 17th, 2011

Longtime anti-native rights activist Gary McHale has been charged with assault today after he used physical force to repeatedly push Six Nations solidarity activist Tom Keefer at a so-called “truth and reconciliation” rally in Caledonia on February 27, 2011. The incident occurred in the context of an attempt by Gary McHale to provoke members of the Six Nations community by placing a 5 foot high wooden monument at the entrance of the Douglas Creek Estates (known by the people of Six Nations as Kanonstaton “the protected place”) as part of his so-called “truth and reconciliation” rally.

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Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, Gary McHale, Racism, White Supremacists

Blowing Smoke with Hot Air: On Helpless, McHale, and the “Truth and Reconciliation” Rally

By Luke Stewart

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”[1] rally held by Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE).

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, CANACE, Christie Blatchford, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Racism, White Supremacists

“Truth and Reconciliation” Rally, Caledonia/Six Nations, February 27th, 2011

“Truth and Reconciliation”

Caledonia/Six Nations, February 27th, 2011

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).

McHale has approximately 20 supporters.

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Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, AW@L, Caledonia, CANACE, Christie Blatchford, FNSWG, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Men's Fire, Racism, TRUE, Unions, YOU

Christians Supporting Six Nations’ Struggles for Peace and Justice

On February 27th, 2011, Christian Peacemaker Teams participated in the rally supporting the people of Six Nations in response to Gary McHale’s so-called ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Rally. In response to McHale’s letter to Christian leaders, two members of the CPT had the following to say:

Speech by Julián Gutiérrez Castaño:
My name is Julián Gutiérrez Castaño. I have come here from Colombia and I work for Christian Peacemaker Teams. I was invited to a rally responding to McHale’s so-called ‘Rally for Truth and Reconciliation’ in Caledonia. I also see that he and some of his people are trying to inaugurate a monument of apologies for the rightful reclamation of Kahnonstaton. When I first (mis)heard about the apology, I thought, “good, finally we are going to apologize to the people from Six Nations”, because they are the people who deserve an apology and the reasons can be easily found in the history of this place. If the apologies are not being made to them, this can not be a rally for Truth and Reconciliation. Rather, it would be a rally for ‘Lies and Violence’.

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Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, Gary McHale, Racism, Uncategorized, White Supremacists