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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Solidarity w Six Nations: Upcoming Events

Three upcoming events on Six Nations’ Grand River Territory

April 28: Walk and Gathering for Peace, Respect, and Friendship
Caledonia and Kanonhstaton, Six Nations Territory

April 29: Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity 101:
an introductory workshop
– Waterloo, WPIRG

May 4+5: Aboriginal Land Rights and the Rule of Law: book launch
Brantford, Caledonia, Ohsweken

April 28: Walk and Gathering for Peace, Respect, and Friendship

At 2 PM on Saturday, April 28, 2012 the Six Nations [Haudenosaunee] people of the Grand River territory and their allies will be holding a walk and rally for “Peace, Respect and Friendship.” The main focus of the event is to remind the Canadian people and the Canadian government that Six Nations land rights and treaties need to be respected.

(read more)

Get on the Bushttp://april28coalition.wordpress.com/our-transportation-registration-form/

April 29: Indigenous Sovereignty & Solidarity – 101: An Introductory Workshop

Waterloo, 2-5:30pm, Math & Community Building (MC), room 2034- University of Waterloo, WPIRG

(link)

The need to recognize indigenous sovereignty, land and treaty rights, and to root all of our intersectional struggles within a framework that incorporates anti-colonial perspectives, is increasingly understood to be a central feature of contemporary social and environmental justice work.

This series of workshops will introduce participants to the basics, as well as some of the complexities of engaging in indigenous solidarity work. Trainings will be interactive and will heavily utilize various popular education techniques, as well as some formal presentation.

All workshops are free, and open to both students and community members. Snacks and bus tickets will be provided, and childcare is available upon request.

Workshops will be held in the Math & Community Building (MC), room 2034- University of Waterloo. Registration is required.

Email tammy@wpirg.org to register.

May 4 and 5: Aboriginal Rights and the Rule of Law

Brantford, May 4, 7-9pm, WLU Odeon Theatre, 50 Market Street
Caledonia, May 5, 1-3pm, Haldimand Public Library, 100 Haddington St.
Ohsweken, May 5, 7-9pm, Old Council House, Fourth Line at Chiefswood.

You are invited to a book signing and author talk with University of British Columbia law student and author, Laura DeVries.

CONFLICT IN CALEDONIA:  Aboriginal Land Rights and the Rule of Law

About the book: Most people know that in 2006 an ongoing struggle in the communities of Caledonia, Brantford and Six Nations began. This book examines the way the conflict in Caledonia was publicly portrayed by those involved in its first two years. It asks why the conflict began, explores how it is linked to broader debates about Canadian law, citizenship and history, and offers ideas as to how the crisis could perhaps have been averted and why the government and Six Nations have been unable to reach resolution.

“I used chapters from this book in my third-year Indigenous history course. The book provides a wonderful analysis of the Caledonia situation.”
-Prof. Gary Warrick – Indigenous Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus.

FREE ADMISSION
More Information call T.R.U.E. c/o Jim Windle at 519-732-5700

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Respecting historic agreements with the Haudenosaunee and walking to Kanonhstaton for peace

AW@L Radio: A discussion with Luke Stewart

Rabble Podcast Network, 20 April 2012

LINK:  http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/awl/2012/04/respecting-historic-agreements-and-walking-peace-april28net-discussion-hi

Show Notes:

The feature of today’s show is our discussion with radical historian Luke Stewart on the upcoming Rally, Walk, and Community BBQ taking place on April 28th in Grand River Territory of the Six Nations, hosted by the April 28th Coalition (http://april28.net). This discussion looks at the the intentions of the event organizers (both indigenous and settler), respecting historical friendships and honouring our treaties (such as the Silver Covenant Chain, The Two Row Wampum, and the Haldimand Proclamation) and the resistance to the event from business interests and white citizens’ councils, among other topics.

– Check http://april28.net for more information about the upcoming rally, walk and community celebration in Caledonia and @Kanonhstaton, Southern Ontario.
– Audio of the invitations for this event Indigenous Land Protectors and their Settler Allies.
This podcast is part of the weekly 2-hour radio show AW@L Radio on CKMS 100.3 http://soundfm.ca from 16:00-18:00 on Fridays.
Check the whole episode at: http://peaceculture.org/drupal/radio/aw@lradio-2012-04-13-fe.mp3

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Frequently Asked Questions about the April 28th Walk for “Peace, Respect & Friendship”

Frequently Asked Questions about the April 28 Walk for “Peace, Respect and Friendship”

by Kanonhstaton Six Nations

Why are you having a walk for “peace, respect, and friendship” on April 28th?

Our peaceful walk and rally is about achieving real and lasting peace, respect, and friendship between native and non-native communities. We believe that in order for there to be peace, there must be justice. And in order for there to be justice, the wrongs that the Canadian government and the British Crown have committed against the people of Six Nations must be redressed. Our walk will draw attention to these is- sues. If we can resolve these issues we can create the basis for true and lasting peace, respect, and friendship between all communities.

What are these wrongs?

Six Nations was granted some 950 000 acres of land along the Grand River by the British Crown in the 1784 Haldimand proclamation. The document states that Six Nations “and their posterity are to enjoy [these lands] forever.” Six Nations was cheated out of much of this land, and on other parts of it they leased the land to non-natives, but they never received the lease money or their lands back. Corrupt government offi- cials stole from Six Nations, and money in the Six Na- tions trust funds held by the government was diverted for other purposes. Today, the people of Six Nations are upset to see developments taking place across their lands for which they receive no compensation or consultation.

Isn’t this march just “rubbing salt on old wounds”?

These are not “old wounds.” The wounds are fresh and are reopened every time that developers build on the Haldimand tract without seeking consultation and approval for their plans with the people of Six Na- tions. Unless the underlying issues are dealt with, the conflict could very easily spiral out of control as it did in Caledonia in 2006. As non-native members of the April 28 coalition, we are trying to bring pressure to bear on our elected leaders to resolve the underlying issues through negotiation and consultation so that new protests and confrontations over land develop- ment can be avoided.

Why did you decide to hold the march on April 28 when things are quieting down and returning to normal?

Caledonia will remain a powder keg until the underly- ing issues are resolved. On February 19, 2012, Gary McHale held a protest and marched onto the recla- mation site in an attempt to create a conflict situation. The next night, a young man from Caledonia tried to commit suicide by driving his car at full speed into the house on the reclamation site. He injured himself, totalled his car, damaged the house, and missed the gas line by about 6 inches. If he had hit the gas line, or if he had injured or killed somebody, the “Caledo- nia crisis” would have immediately escalated to 2006 levels again.

The events on the weekend of February 19th – 20th called our coalition into being and made us recognize the need to organize a peaceful and positive event on a scale that our politicians and the national media could not ignore. The root causes of the conflict need to be addressed if there is to be peace and friendship between our communities.

Why don’t you have the walk start on 6th Line and then have it walk around to the reclamation site?

The decision to start the walk at Edinburgh Square and end at the reclamation site rests in the symbolic importance of the route. Edinburgh Square stands on unceded Six Nations land in the middle of a non- native community, the walk over the Argyle St. bridge symbolizes the bridging of native and non-native com- munities, and the end point symbolizes a new begin- ning in native and non-native relations in the commu- nity. The route was chosen for very specific reasons and as the result of careful planning. The walk itself should only take around a half hour to complete and in working with Ontario Provincial Police we have en- sured that the route – and all people and businesses on it – will be safe and secure.

What do plans on the day look like?

We begin gathering at Edinburgh square at 2 PM. There will be a speaker from Caledonia and a speaker from Six Nations who will welcome participants to the rally and explain the peaceful guidelines under which we are operating. At 2:30 PM we will leave the square and begin walking up Argyle Street. Argyle Street will be closed to regular traffic for approximately half an hour. At 3 PM the walk will approach the reclamation site. Six Nations people at the site will line both sides of Surrey Street (the entrance to the site along High- way 6) and will shake the hands and personally wel- come people entering the site. From 3:15 PM to 4 PM there will be speeches from the stage. From 4 PM to 6 PM we will all enjoy live music, games such as la- crosse, dingball, and volleyball, the children will play in the bouncy castles rented for the event and we will share a massive pot luck dinner together.

Why should I come out to the event on April 28th ?

April 28 will be a wonderful and historic opportunity for genuine peace, friendship, and respect amongst all people in Caledonia, Six Nations, and the surround- ing area. The reclamation site will be open to all who come in the spirit of peace and friendship. You can make a real difference by coming to the event and by doing what you can to open lines of communication in friendship amongst the thousand or so native and non-native people that will be there. Bring some food, shake hands with your neighbours from Six Nations, and come together with us to demand that our gov- ernment take seriously the task of negotiating a just resolution to the issue of Six Nations land rights.

But don’t you need a permit from the municipality for a public event like this?

Caledonia Mayor Ken Hewitt has publicly requested that organizers submit a permit for this event, even though in private conversation with organizers he in- dicated that there is no way that his Council would ever approve a permit for the peace walk. Canadian law, however, is very clear about the power of mu- nicipal governments. They do not have the jurisdiction to override the democratic rights of free speech and public assembly enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Anyone seeking to exercise their democratic rights does not need the approval of their municipal government. This is a constitutionally protected right, not a privilege.

Aren’t you worried that the event will spark more conflict around this issue?

Our goal is to take pro-active steps to move this issue towards resolution. Efforts have been taken to miti- gate conflict and it is our belief that it would be more dangerous for us to not take a stand, especially in the context of the attempted suicide that happened when the young man drove his car into the house on the reclamation site on the night of February 20. We must take a stand and move beyond the status quo if this issue is to reach resolution and reconciliation is to occur.

How will you make sure that the event stays peaceful?

Event organizers have been liaising with Ontario Pro- vinicial Police to ensure the safety of all stakeholders in the community – those both on the walk and those opposed. The event also has a logistics and security team schooled in conflict resolution and focused on a peaceful and respectful walk. These marshals will be wearing arm bands on the day of the march and will be in communication with each other throughout. Also, protocol for the walk and the spirit of peaceful intentions has been communicated to all participants and will be repeated on buses as they approach the walk and again during the opening of the walk. We will not respond to provocations and we will not toler- ate violent or disruptive acts made by anyone walking with us.

How can I get in touch with the people organizing the April 28 event?

Phone: 905-481-0072 Email: april28info@gmail.com Website: http://www.april28.net

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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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Hundreds to Gather for Peace and Friendship Walk and Rally in Caledonia on April 28th, 2012

April 28 Coalition
Media Advisory
17 April 2012

Hundreds to Gather for Peace and Friendship Walk and Rally in Caledonia on April 28th, 2012

Caledonia – April 20th, 2012 marks the sixth anniversary of the OPP raid of the Six Nations reclamation of the former Douglas Creek Estates, which cast a national spotlight on Native land disputes in Canada.

In an historic event, hundreds of non-native supporters are busing in from eight Southern Ontario cities to peacefully rally in Caledonia and walk to a celebration at Kanonhstaton, the former Douglas Creek Estates on Saturday April 28, 2012.

Following years of inaction on unresolved land and treaty issues at all levels of Canadian government, Native and non-native communities are rallying together in unprecedented numbers to demand that Six Nations land rights be respected.

Tracy Bomberry, a Six Nations spokesperson for the April 28th Coaltion says “It has been six years since Kanonhstaton (“the Protected Place”) or the Reclamation began in 2006. Much has occurred since then. Our people have stood up and raised our voices and many connections, friendships, and relationships have been built. However, at the same time nothing has been done by the Canadian Government to address our treaties and land rights.”

This day of celebration and its lead-up events are being organized by a broad based group calling themselves the April 28th Coalition. Luke Stewart, a historian and lifetime Haldimand Tract resident, is one of the group’s spokespeople. Stewart described the march as “a call to honour and respect our historical agreements, and move toward a peaceful future of healthy coexistence, not colonial subjugation and corporate land theft.” Stewart added that “the April 28th Coalition is comprised of residents of Caledonia, Oshweken, Hamilton, Kanonhstaton, Brantford, Dunville, Kitchener, and other small towns along the Grand River as well as supporters from Toronto and beyond.”

According to Caledonia resident and group spokesperson Katherine Moesker “This day can mark the beginning of the reconciliation of relationships between two communities. We cannot move forward if we all don’t take a stand and decide to work together. This event can be a powerful statement to anyone who witnesses it: we can show the world that it is possible to grow closer together as a community despite what has happened in the past.”

Tracy Bomberry and Luke Stewart are available for comment.

For more information: kanonhstaton@gmail.comhttp://www.april28coalition.wordpress.com
Twitter: @kanonhstaton • Facebook: Kanonhstaton Six Nations • Youtube.com/kanonhstaton
Phone: 905-481-0072

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Community Walk and Celebration for Peace, Respect and Friendship

 April 28 Coalition
Press Release
3 April 2012

Community Walk and Celebration for Peace, Respect and Friendship

At 2 PM on Saturday, April 28, 2012 the Six Nations [Haudenosaunee] people of the Grand River territory and their allies will be holding a walk and rally for “Peace, Respect and Friendship.” The main focus of the event is to remind the Canadian people and the Canadian government that Six Nations land rights and treaties need to be respected.

Whether native or non-native, all of us residing within Canada are treaty people. We have both a moral and a legal imperative to uphold the nation-to-nation agreements made on our behalf by the British Crown and Canadian government with indigenous peoples. It was treaties such as the Two-Row Wampum which gave us as non-indigenous people the right to settle in what is now called Canada, and as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms, these treaties are still in force and they must be honored and upheld.

Six years after the land reclamation began at the former Douglas Creek Estates, the time has come to stand together and respect the words of our ancestors, to call for our treaties with Six Nations people to be honoured, and to bring together our communities and allies to celebrate the principles of Peace, Friendship and Respect under the agreements that our peoples made together – the Two-Row Wampum, the Silver Covenant Chain, and the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.

At 2pm on April 28th, 2012, we will be gathering at Edinburgh Square, a Haudenosaunee park across from the Caledonia Fairgrounds in the Township of Caledonia and then we will peacefully walk down Argyle St. to the site known as Kanonhstaton. At the site there will be a potluck, live music, games, activities and discussions to which all people – from Six Nations, Caledonia, and all other communities – are invited to attend.

Organizers will also be hosting two events leading up to the walk and gathering. The events welcome all community members who wish to talk about the walk and gathering; ask questions about the reasons behind the event; or just want to meet organizers. There will be a BBQ in Kinsmen Park on Saturday April 7th at 1pm. There will also be a information and Q&A night at the Caledonia Public Library on April 19th at 6pm. All are
welcome.

Phone: 905-481-0072| Email: april28info@gmail.com |Website: http://www.april28coalition.wordpress.com |Twitter: @kanonhstaton|Facebook: Kanonhstaton Six Nations |Youtube: Youtube.com/kanonhstaton

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