Category Archives: Cayuga Anti-Militia Protest

Understanding the Colonial Roots of Anti Native Activism

The actions and words of Gary McHale are deeply rooted in colonial and racist understandings of Native peoples and Canadian history. Caledonia Wake Up Call materials, actions, and rhetoric clearly criminalise Aboriginal assertions of sovereignty. This criminalization trivializes and de-historicizes the very reasons Aboriginal nations across the country are pushed to make these assertions as they confront the continued theft of their land. McHale consciously uses the language of civil and human rights, and his reliance on ‘peaceful activism’ serves to distinguish between those who are civilized and those who are not. So while McHale and followers define the CWUC movement as rooted in peaceful activism, they cast the Six Nations reclamation as terrorist in nature.  This is a racist tactic and a very old colonial justification for violence against Aboriginal people.

In fact Caledonia Wake Up Call, the Caledonia Militia and CANACE are only the newest groups in a long history of anti-Native/anti-sovereignty organizing in Canada. Anti-sovereignty/Anti-Native groups are those groups defined solely or in part by their opposition to Aboriginal sovereignty and treaty rights. These types of groups have existed since the arrival of Europeans on this land. Today these types of groups and organizations often passionately employ language based in civil rights movements, calling for ‘equal rights for all Canadians’ and using the popular slogan ‘one law for all.’ The names of anti-sovereignty organizations also usually “combine patriotic symbols to evoke notions of political fairness and equality.”1 Tracing the history of anti-sovereignty and white supremacist movements Kim Goldberg writes that:

Like other anti-democratic movements before it, the anti-Indian movement cloaks itself in the populist rhetoric of “equality,” “democracy” and “civil rights,” thereby concealing its true agenda and netting a much wider following than it could otherwise obtain. Language becomes so distorted that anti-democratic proponents not only seek to deflect the damning but accurate labels applied to them, they shoot them back at their critics. So it isn’t the opponents of aboriginal self-government who are racist but rather the very concept of self-government along with those who advocate it.2

A report on anti-sovereignty organizing in Canada, entitled “Friends, F.I.R.E., and Aboriginal Rights”, contends the use of the populist slogan “one law for all” by these groups “is an attempt to deny the existence of aboriginal rights, and to undermine federal and provincial governments’ efforts at negotiating modern treaties with First Nations.”3

McHale styles himself as something of a civil rights leader, and categorically denies that he is a racist or white supremacist insisting that his mission promotes non-violent struggle. Alongside their professed commitments to liberal ideologies Caledonia Wake Up Call relies on and elicits highly racist ideas and actions.  While the slogan “One Law for All” began to be used by anti-Native groups in Canada in the early 1990s, it was previously popularized by the KKK in the early 1970s.   Though Gary McHale denounces any connections with overtly white supremacist groups and says he cannot control who shows up at his events, “dozens of open neo-Nazis have participated in events organized by McHale.”4  For example Paul Fromm, active white supremacist leader linked with Heritage Front and well known for his support of Canadian holocaust denier Ernest Zundel, attended one of McHale’s events and actively advertises McHale’s events on neo-nazi web pages.  In fact you can find many active threads positively endorsing McHale led events on explicit white nationalist websites. Although anti-Native movements and organizations may seem extreme, representing a fringe group of society, in both the past and present these groups have held prominent links to the political parties and economic interests that govern Canada.  In fact many of these groups are off shoots of Canadian provincial and federal parties.  McHale and the groups he leads are linked with the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and have the support of several Conservative MPPs. When both openly white nationalist/neo-Nazi groups and Canadian political leaders begin supporting the same groups/cause, its time we take a closer look at what is happening.

Describing Native reclamations as terrorist in nature and describing Natives as having an absolute willingness to commit crimes, the Caledonia Wake Up Call movement casts Natives as inherently violent and as ultimately savage. In fact this is what some scholars and historians have called the “new improved language of colonialism:”

…in a political climate where the worst accusation is one of anti-democracy, where terrorism lurks around every corner. The implication is that treaty rights are somehow undemocratic. It is the new nomenclature for what old-style colonialism called uncivilized and savage. 5

Caledonia Wake Up Call and its counterparts readily use distinctions between the civilized and the savage.   These groups insist that the human rights of innocent Caledonia residents are being systematically violated by what Gary McHale calls“ the absolute willingness on the part of Native People to commit crimes,”6 and the government’s willingness to allow it. The movement also claims that the government and the police are aiding and abetting terrorism against the very people they were sworn to protect (i.e.:(white) settlers, not Natives). Not only does the movement evoke the ‘war on terror,’ but with references to Armageddon and ‘evil doers,’ they evoke the ultimate battle between good and evil, between the Christian God and Satan.  The movement plainly describes the reclamation and assertions of sovereignty as ‘evil.’ Alongside the calls to stop the ‘terrorists,’ ‘extortionists and ‘criminals,’ are calls to stop the ‘evildoers.’ Describing Native people as inherently violent or as having an absolute willingness to commit violence or an inclination towards evil, is a very old phenomenon in Canada. It stems from the racist belief that prior to European arrival on this land Natives lived in a state of savagery. The idea of savagery is understood an inferior state of being, characterized as being without laws or organization, a being without civilization. This belief is a very common one in Canada, and is part of a story most Canadians are told over and over again—Europeans brought civilization to the “savages” that “roamed” this land.    Gary McHale equates Native reclamations with a descent into lawlessness and as landclaim terrorism, and for him recognizing Aboriginal sovereignty means to welcome savagery as the order of the day. This is a racist idea that at its roots understands the sovereignty of Aboriginal nations as something inferior to Canadian sovereignty. This understanding is rooted in the idea that Aboriginal people are inferior, and their governments do not have the same integrity as Canadian democracy.

Unfortunately Gary McHale’s ideas are not uncommon. Canada has long advocated these kinds of racist ideas and policies of genocide that created the rational for residential schools (the last of which closed less than two decades ago). Those who created, ran and supported residential schools probably did not think themselves racist either, though their actions and the ideas that guided their actions were undeniably racist.  Residential schools were created under the premise that Canada wanted to “civilize” Natives in order that they might participate fully in Canadian/civilized life.  Today much of the same logic is still rampant and is readily used by groups like Caledonia Wake Up Call and CANACE.  Instead of assimilation policies oriented around the mandate to “civilize”, today assimilation proponents use words such as “democracy” and “equality” claiming we should all be equal under one rule of law.  A report on Anti-Native movements produced by the Montana Human Rights Network indicates that:

the anti-Indian movement….in America is as old as the arrival of the first Europeans. For long periods of time, the anti-Indian movement successfully advanced a policy of genocide which was embraced by virtually all social and political institutions in the country. The modern anti-Indian movement advocates the continued elimination not by the murder of individuals, but by the termination of their structures of self-governance, the taking of their resources, and by defining them as part of the “rest of the country” through forced assimilation.7

Genocide, described as forced assimilation, is a key mandate of anti-sovereignty movements and has long defined Canadian policies toward Aboriginal peoples.

Though Gary McHale and those who support his cause claim they are fighting for equality and democracy, trying to protect innocent Canadians and the rule of law, there is a fundamental flaw in the logic of their cause—we do not all belong to the same nation. In fact the very foundation of the Canadian state and its laws come from recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty, as evidenced in the Treaties.  Treaties are the foundation of Canadian law, and so to uphold the rule of law we must as Canadians uphold these treaties.   Treaties and other agreements, like the Two Row Wampum, have been systematically violated by the Canadian government and its citizens. And this is part of what Six Nations are resisting. Six Nations are protesting the continued violation of both their own rule of law and Canada’s very first rule of law.

If as Canadians we want to protect the rule of law, then we must honour our agreements and obligations.  Therefore, if McHale and others are so concerned about the rule of law, they might begin by recognizing Six Nations sovereignty. If these individuals are so concerned about democracy and freedom, they might try to learn something from the diplomacy of the oldest living League of Nations and democracies on earth.  If they are so concerned about the protection of human rights, they might look to United Nations reports that have consistently admonished Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal peoples, the continued expropriation of Native land and the violation of basic human rights.  As Canadians we have decisions to make. Will we continue to support and allow vigilantism, theft and genocide in our names? Or, will we honour and reclaim the first laws of Canada, laws that respect the land and sovereignty of Native nations?


1 Kallen M. Martin. “Under His Authority: Slade Gorton and the New Terminators in Congress.” Native Americas 13.3 (1996): 22-9.

2 Kim Goldberg.“Anti-indian movement on the rise in BC (Delgamuukw decision and Nisga’a treaty).” Canadian Dimension. Winnipeg: Sep 1998. Vol. 32, Iss. 5; pg. 6

3 “Friends, F.I.R.E., and Aboriginal Rights.” Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee. (2004):1-7. <;.

4 Tom Keefer. “The Politics of Solidarity: Six Nations, Leadership, and the Settler Left.” Upping the Anti.4 (2007): 107-123., p,115.

5 Neu, Dean and Therrien. Accounting for Genocide: Canada’s Bureaucratic Assault on Aboriginal People. London :Zed Books,2003 p177

6 Gary McHale. “Who are we?” Caledonia Wake Up Call. 14 June 2007 <;.

7 “Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana.” The Montana Human Rights Network. (2000):1-48. < specialresearchreports/ DrummingUp.pdf>. p.5

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Caledonia “Militia” forms to deal with Native “Lawlessness”

by Niki Thorne (published in Mayday Magazine #53 September/09)

The situation in Caledonia became the subject of intense conflict and debate with Six Nations’ reclamation of Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonhstaton) in February of 2006.  Shortly after the reclamation, Caledonia Wake Up Call (CWUC) was formed by a number of angry citizens, as well as with the support of prominent non-Caledonian anti-native sovereignty activists including Gary McHale and other founders of CANACE (“Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality”).  In his biography, Gary McHale, editor of Caledonia Wake Up Call and co-founder of CANACE, describes himself as “a full time Civil Rights Advocate working to stop violence and OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] racially based policing during Aboriginal land claims.”

CANACE and CWUC claim that non-native citizens of Caledonia are being oppressed by native “terrorism” and “lawlessness”.  As of June 23rd, 2009, such claims have been the basis for the formation of the Caledonia ‘Peacekeepers’ (called the Caledonia ‘Militia’ in previous press releases),headed by Caledonia citizen Doug Fleming.  Fleming states, “Enough is enough! Due to the ongoing reality that the OPP refuses to enforce the Criminal Code with regards to people’s property rights I am forming the Caledonia Militia to ensure that the criminal code is upheld.”  He states that the Caledonia “Militia”/ “Peacekeepers” would patrol areas of Caledonia by car and by foot, with uniforms and radios, and would use “reasonable force” in conducting arrests when informed of native lawlessness.  They intend to focus on the Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonhstaton) site, which Fleming calls a “safe-zone for native criminals” and their stated goal is to provoke confrontation, forcing the police to act.

The existence and activities of this group rests on the claim that there is two-tiered justice and oppression of non-natives, while natives are above the law.  In actuality, First Nations are five to ten times more likely to be incarcerated than non-natives in Canada.  They are more likely to be investigated, and to be charged.  They are also more likely to be denied bail, to be given jail time, and they tend to be given longer sentences than non-native Canadians.  There is a historical and systemic background that has resulted in the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people—the Supreme Court ruled in Regina v. Gladue (1999) that the Canadian criminal justice is racist.  This is in legislation.

Despite this, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, and others continue to depict unarmed native protesters as “terrorists” and “insurgents”, in order to incite fear and panic, alluding to savagery and barbarism.  One article on McHale’s “Homeland Security” webpage (,  entitled “Introduction to Terrorist Threat in Caledonia”, states “These web pages are created to educate the American people to a Real Terrorist Threat just north of your border”. In another of his articles, entitled “Power Grid Terrorist Threat—Previous Attacks”, McHale portrays the native protesters as violent and murderous. He states that a guard was “swarmed by a number of the protesters who smashed the security car while he was inside the vehicle, threatened him with death if he did not leave, then put gasoline on the car, lit it on fire”, implying the killing of the security guard. He also writes “This Native element is extremely well organized and weaponized”.

In his article “Why the Natives have Won?” McHale states that “women and children are living in fear and in direct danger to their lives.” In “McGuinty Negotiates with Terrorists” he states that “the very reason they don’t want to send in the police (there will be bloodshed) proves that the people protesting in Caledonia are well armed and well motived to commit such violence…The OPP and the Ontario Government are convinced that these particular protesters in Caledonia will respond with open war—bloodshed is their fear.” He also states that “Native Laws and Native Constitution gives them [the natives] the right to attack the occupiers [Canadians], to attack those who are guilty of genocide. Natives teach their children these things.”

This is obviously a gross misrepresentation, and a fabrication of a non-existing “Native Law” (Contrast with Kaianere’kό:wa, or the Great Law of Peace, often referred to by the Haudenosaunee protesters).   The security guard was not lit on fire, the ‘Native element’ is not ‘weaponized’, nor are they attacking.

McHale has fabricated his own version of Native law to incite and promote fear and discontent, and with it, an escalation of the possibility of violence towards native people.  The recent formation of the Caledonia “Peacekeepers”, headed by Doug Fleming, with the support of both Gary McHale and Mark Vandermas, represents a further, and very tangible threat of violence and escalation to both Caledonia and Six Nations communities.

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Sachem News coverage

[again, another report from someone who left the event before more than half of the protesters arrived, but at least it reports one OPP officer claiming that we were the “most organized, prepared rally” they had ever seen.  It should also be noted that near the end of the protest an off-duty officer came up to us and said that they were very proud of what we were doing, to keep up the good work, and that if their parents were alive today they would have been on our side of the road]

Out-of-towners rally against ‘militia’

By Stefanie Wallace, The Sachem

June 26, 2009

Over 70 people from Hamilton, Kitchener- Waterloo, Guelph, Toronto, Six Nations and the Haldimand-Norfolk area travelled to Cayuga on June 23 for a rally that started and ended just the way everyone hoped it would: as peacefully as possible.

“This is the most organized, prepared rally I’ve ever seen,” one OPP officer joked as the group of protesters handed out bottled water and snacks to one another.

The rally, which was initiated by the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, and organized by Tom Keefer, was to protest the formation and the first meeting of what Gary McHale and Doug Fleming originally called the Caledonia Militia.

“The only way to get media attention in this country is to use a word like militia,” McHale said, explaining that the group he and Fleming formed will now be known as the Caledonia Peacekeepers.

The Caledonia Peacekeepers will protect citizens by using unarmed force to remove trespassers from private property.

Fleming said the group was only meant to help the situation, not make it worse.

Across the street from the Cayuga Lions Club Hall, protesters flooded the street chanting, “Go away, KKK,” and waving signs and banners that read, “With 6 Nations Against Racism” and “Canadians say NO to Anti-Native Vigilantes.”

“The Caledonia Militia, or Peacekeepers, and Gary McHale are strongly supported by openly Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups,” said Niki Thorne, a protester from Hamilton.

“This militia isn’t good for either Caledonia or Six Nations, so we’re calling for the Canadian government to resolve land claims fairly, swiftly and peacefully.”

McHale said that he has openly denounced support from Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

“The fact is that there has been an armed militia in Haldimand County for the past three years … a group of people who go around wearing masks, carrying baseball bats … who believe they are above the law,” McHale said, referring to the Haudenosaunee Men’s Fire, a group that was involved in the land occupation and road blockades.

The formation of the Caledonia Peacekeepers group is not supported by the OPP.

“The OPP has been acting to preserve the peace, maintain public safety and investigate criminal wrongdoing. That’s what we have been doing and will continue to do so,” commented OPP Constable Paula Wright. “The formation of a militia will benefit no one.”


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Basic Background of Cayuga Protest

[The following is taken from independent documentary photographer Allan Lissner who does an excellent job providing some background to the issue, but make sure to visit the source of this piece ( to check out some great photos]


Tensions on the rise again surrounding Six Nations’ land claim in Caledonia

By Allan Lissner,

Tensions are on the rise again surrounding the three-year standoff over a first nations land dispute in Caledonia, Ontario.  Non native residents of Caledonia recently announced the formation of the “Caledonia Militia” in response to the lack of progress in the land dispute with the intent to “follow established procedures on the use of reasonable force to remove illegal trespassers”. The formation of the Caledonia Militia has caused a great deal of concern over the potential for violent escalation in the already tense situation.

The Douglas Creek Estates is the strip of land at the centre of this dispute. The land in question looks much like any other suburban construction site being developed across Canada, except that members of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy point out that the land rightfully belongs to them.

This is one of hundreds of indigenous land claims being disputed across Canada.  The Six Nations’ claim to this land dates back to 1784 when the British were fighting the Americans during the War of Independence; The British, who had always dealt with the Six Nations Confederacy on a nation-to-nation basis, asked the Six Nations’ to fight alongside them and offered a large area of land in return.  The 380,000 hectare tract of land promised to them covered an area of six miles on either side of the Grand River. Today, less than five percent of the land promised to them is in their possession, making up what is now the Six Nations Reserve.  The Government of Canada’s official position on the matter is that “the Six Nations validly surrendered all the lands that are not now part of the reserve.”

The women of the Six Nations Confederacy, however, argue that the land in question was never legally surrendered. The Six Nations Confederacy has been called the oldest surviving participatory democracy on earth, and according to their constitution the women are the ‘Title Holders.’ One of the women active at the blockade describes how decisions are made: “There are fifty chiefs who represent the Confederacy Council and they have a clanmother with each chief. It is the people whose voice the chiefs and clanmothers carry. Any decision regarding land comes first from the women, and then to their clans; and through the process of our council, when all are in agreement, or when consensus has been reached, only then does the decision stand,” she says. “In our history of the Haldimand Tract, this has never been done.”

“The idea that British Colonists or their descendents–like Canadians–were the only people who had ‘law’ is a legal fiction,” says Kahentinetha Horn, a Mohawk elder from Kahnawake. Canada “has totally disrespected our laws and agreements to conduct a nation-to-nation relationship.”

Construction stopped on February 28, 2006, when members of the Six Nations moved in to block construction on the site and reclaim the land.  They have remained there for over three years now with little progress being made in negotiations with federal and provincial governments.  Both federal and provincial governments have been dodging the issue by claiming that the issue lies in the others’ jurisdiction.  With the government completely avoiding the issue, the racial tensions continue to mount between the native and non-natives in the surrounding area.  Both sides are growing increasingly worried about the potential for violent escalation.

The formation of the Caledonia Militia has been met with strong criticism from the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ (CUPE) First Nations Solidarity Working Group, who argue that the formation of the Caledonia Militia “represents a major escalation in regard to the conflict at Six Nations … [increasing] the possibility of violent conflict between natives and non-natives.”  To show their opposition, CUPE’s First Nations Solidarity Group brought busloads of protestors from Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph to gather outside the Lion’s Club in Cayuga, Ontario, where the first meeting of the militia was being held.


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Brantford Expositor coverage

[Fleming points out that white supremacists need not apply and that he “despises” their beliefs, but-as mentioned elsewhere-he needs to face the elephant in the room: why do these actions attract such company?  McHale and Fleming can talk until they’re blue in the face about how much they despise such ideologies of hate, but the simple truth is that their rallies, marches, and now possibly militias, draw out a certain crowd like bees to honey]

Call us ‘Peacekeepers’


June 24, 2009

This town became Caledonia for an evening as two bitterly opposed groups faced off Tuesday night with insults and warring news releases at the Lions Club Hall.

Inside the hall, about 30 people in a group that was holding a first organizational meeting of the Caledonia Peacekeepers. A couple of weeks ago the group started by calling itself the Caledonia Militia.

Caledonia protest personality Gary McHale and Doug Fleming, the Peacekeepers founding leader, launched a critique of the OPP’s “race-based policing” that they say goes easy on crimes committed by First Nations people.

They also explained how the new group would monitor and report on crime in Caledonia, be prepared to make citizen’s arrests and carry out an information program to educate people about “what is really going on” in the name of the native land claims dispute.

Above all, Fleming and McHale emphasized that the Peacekeepers would not tolerate anyone in its membership who expresses racist views.

“I’m going to be very blunt, here,” said Fleming.

“My grandfather’s generation fought a war against Nazi Germany to combat that type of thinking. If any of you here have bought into this racist doctrine, I just want you to know this: I despise your beliefs. I couldn’t disagree with you more, and this is not the group for you.”

Outside the hall and across the street, about 100 demonstrators had bused in from various southern Ontario communities to condemn the new group in speeches, signs and literature as racist neo-Nazis, or people who “definitely” had leanings and connections to more prominent organizations of the same ilk.

The protesters, from Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton and Toronto, were bused in by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, First Nations Solidarity Working Group.

They took full advantage of the new Caledonia group’s early choice of “militia” in its name, as they carried signs reading “Canadians Don’t Want Anti-Native Vigilantes,” “Klan Meeting in Progress,” “Militia Go Home,” and ”,” the website of a reputed white supremacist organization.

“I’m not saying that Gary McHale and Doug Fleming are neo-Nazi,” but their motives are questionable, one spokesman, Davin Charney, insisted to the media, while police were moving the protesters across the street as they descended from the bus.

Questioned further, Charney said that McHale and Fleming were at least “guilty by association.”

“We oppose the threat of violence and escalation of the problem,” said Niki Thorne, a York University graduate student and member of the First Nations Solidarity Working Group.

“This is a bigger issue. This is not just about Caledonia. We need to settle all land claims in a crisp, peaceful and fair manner.”

Fleming and McHale both said they first decided to call their group a “militia” to get the media’s attention.

McHale said that there has been a native militia in Caledonia for three years.

“Whether they call themselves the Mohawk Warriors, or the Men’s Fire, or the Protectors, or whatever name they want to use, they have been acting an armed militia, using baseball bats and other weapons to intimidate people,” he said.

With the OPP unwilling to enforce the law, the Peacekeepers are dedicated to the “restoration of law and order,” he said.

The new group’s meeting was held in Cayuga, partly because McHale is forbidden by a court order from carrying on his activities in Caledonia.

Tuesday’s confrontation is the latest incident in a re-escalation of tension in Caledonia, more than three years after the occupation of a former housing development by Six Nations Haudenosaunee activists, which they call a “reclamation.”

Last Thursday, the fledgling group staged a silent march past the site, with an equal number of Haudenosaunee activists standing quietly at the entrance.

The march, against the OPP, was a response to the arrest of Fleming’s brother, Randy, about a week earlier for trying to walk down the same road with a Canadian flag.


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