From the Six Nations Solidarity Network
(Leaflet handed out at Feb 27th “Truth and Reconciliation Rally”)
We are here today in a spirit of reconciliation and truth. Tomorrow
marks the 5th year since the reclamation began. As non-natives, many
of us today have been actively involved in various ways with people here
over the years. We have:
• Talked with residents on their doorsteps about their concerns, when
the barricades around the reclamation site were still up;
• Attempted to defuse potentially violent conﬂicts as tensions ﬂared
on Argyle Street in the early days of the reclamation;
• Worked extensively with community members from Six Nations,
around a wide range of youth, women’s, environmental and social
• Organized speaking events, potlucks, and forums where people from
both Six Nations and Caledonia have given their take on the conﬂict,
and tried to ﬁnd ways to build dialogue and understanding between
Our consistent aim has been one of encouraging dialogue, peace, and understanding between all the various communities involved in this conﬂict. It is our perspective that the primary reason for the existence and continuation of this conﬂict lies in the failure of our provincial and federal governments to undertake serious negotiations with the people of Six Nations. The root of this conﬂict is one of colonial oppression: Six Nations have had their resources, traditional forms of government, and their culture taken away by the actions of the Canadian government. The legacies of land being sold off in illegal deals without community consultation, Confederacy Chiefs being deposed by the RCMP at bayonet point, and children being forced into residential schools, forbidden to speak their language or practice their culture, are evident today.
A genuine attempt at reconciliation and peace thus needs to recognize that this conﬂict did not begin ﬁve years ago. It is rooted in the European colonization of the Americas which began some 500 years ago, and continues today. Because of this, what has happened in Caledonia and Six Nations over the past 5 years is not a simple policing issue, or an issue of the “rule of law.” Rather, it is a political conﬂict, involving different kinds of societies, with different legal systems, cultures, and understandings of how we should live with our environment.
Today, people across Canada are recognizing that indigenous peoples have been treated unfairly by different federal and provincial governments over the past 200 years. Yet, while successive governments have not kept their promises, many of us have not cared to remember these promises either, that were made in our name, by our elected representatives. Because of this, a solution will not come from encouraging the police to crack down on native protesters who are protecting their lands from property developers, or who are trying to ensure a better future for their children. If anything, such an approach will make things worse and heighten the level of confrontation and disruption in towns like Caledonia.
As such, we have come here today because we want to make it clear Gary McHale (and his cronies) do not speak for all non-natives – whether in Caledonia or elsewhere in Canada. McHale’s agenda is one that is self-serving and egotistical. We believe that it is based on trying to cause conﬂict and trouble between communities. Why do we say this?
Today, Gary McHale will try to erect his own monument directly in front of Douglas Creek Estates. Here he wants to inscribe apologies from Six Nations and the OPP to the people of Haldimand County. This question of apologies is interesting. Not once has McHale…
– Considered that the OPP (and those in elected ofﬁce responsible
ultimately for their orders) should apologize for the armed raid at DCE on April 20th, 2006.
– Suggested that the Canadian government should apologize for historically failing to live up to the treaty obligations that our nation undertook with Six Nations;
– Understood that, as any adult knows, to begin a process of true
reconciliation, one must begin with making an apology for one’s own
This is the truth about McHale and his gang: nowhere does McHale offer an apology for his bullying and harassing behavior over the years. He has never apologized for:
– Silencing and intimidating Caledonia residents who do not toe his line.
– Having organized events in Caledonia that have been regularly attended by neo-Nazis and white supremacists;
– Calling native people “terrorists” and “thugs”;
– Planning protests and rallies to inﬂame an already tense situation.
McHale’s rally today is an attempt to produce more confrontation and conﬂict. Whenever things quieten down, and people attempt to move on with their lives, reconciling and dialoguing with one another in their daily activities, McHale rolls in town to fan the ﬂames of conﬂict and aggression. Putting up his so-called monument in front of DCE is nothing more than an attempt to antagonize the OPP into arresting him so that he can continue to claim martyrdom, and/or attempting to provoke the people of Six Nations into some act of violence, that he can then use to paint them as “terrorists”.
We are here today to say that there is a better way. Reconciliation can come about. However, we believe that this will only be through us all recognizing the errors of our past actions, and understanding the history of the land we live upon. Reconciliation and truth needs to begin with compassion and
humility, and it has to recognize the grave injustices that indigenous people in Canada have faced for so long – and continue to face. If we are serious about resolving these issues, grassroots people from both Six Nations, and the surrounding communities across Ontario need to come together and demand that
our governments act in good faith to resolve these issues.