Tag 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

“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

Reflections on “The New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum”

by Kate Milley

As a white settler academic who has been studying the anti-Native activity of Gary McHale et al for several years, when I heard that they had been personally invited to an academic conference I was alarmed. Though familiar with Frances Widdowson’s work, I mistakenly imagined even she would want to distance herself from such ardent anti-Native activists. On May 5th, 2010 I went to the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum held at Mount Royal University to see for myself what was going on. The conference was minimally attended with about 40 participants in total including the invited speakers. It was held in a dark performance theatre, where mostly empty benches circled three sides of the stage floor. The conference was most prominently sponsored by the Frontier Centre, a think tank known to push neoliberal public policy recommendations and which has alarming positions on Indigenous issues (http://www.fcpp.org/aboriginals.php). McHale and Vandermaas spoke on a panel entitled “Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Rule of Law” with Ron Bourgeault, professor of sociology at Regina University and Wes Elliott from Six Nations.

Bourgeault started things off by recounting his experience decades ago as a welfare worker who discovered that a doctor, a former Nazi, was forcefully sterilizing Indigenous women in a northern Saskatchewan hospital run by the Catholic church. Knowing of McHale and Vandermaas’ attempts to demonize the Canadian Union of Public Employees, he underlined that he called upon CUPE to help unionize the hospital staff, especially the nurses. After unionization the tides of power were turned and the forced sterilization of Indigenous women ended. During the conference, with the exception of Bourgeault, and a few other speakers, there was little mention of the atrocities of colonialism and colonialism itself was rendered as a legacy rather than an ongoing phenomenon. McHale and Vandermaas were not the only speakers to do this, but their erasure of the ongoing colonial reality was perhaps the most egregious.

McHale and Vandermaas’ presentations followed the historically shortsighted, racist and decontextualized rhetoric that they have become notorious for. McHale spoke while images, mostly taken from April 20th 2006, flashed across a screen without any attempt at context and little comment. Most prominently his slideshow began with this message “The people of Caledonia and Six Nations lived in peace for generations” and THEN, he underlines, Six Nations people used Caledonia to pressure the government and broke the peace. This beginning is interesting for several reasons, primarily because of what it erases. While certainly Caledonia and Six Nations have a long history living alongside each other, this rendering fails to acknowledge not only the history of colonialism but its ongoing nature. Summarily erasing the fact that much of the Haldimand tract was “settled’ through illegal means, and the reality of residential schools, McHale’s presentation varied little from his regular summoning of an ahistorical and miraculously ‘objective’ rule of law that seems to have fallen from the skies, rather than one forged in the annals of colonial atrocity.

This ahistorical fervor is perhaps best seen in his ability to compare himself and his work to Martin Luther King, often erroneously citing King’s letter from the Birmingham jail to justify his actions. McHale insists that Six Nations should address their claims through the courts, and ought obey the colonial Rule of Law as their land continues to be stolen. This logic is not so different from that seen in the letter “A Call for Unity” written by eight white clergyman criticizing King’s demonstrations in Birmingham—the very letter that inspired King to write what is now considered the single most important document of the civil rights era.

The white clergymen began their letter “We the undersigned clergymen are among those who, in January, issued “an appeal for law and order and common sense,” in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts, but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed.” These men’s assertion on the need to obey a rule of law that is inherently racist until such time that the courts find it unjust, is uncannily similar to McHale and Vandermaas’ message. In his response King had this to say about waiting for the oppressor to change the law and the importance of direct action:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

What was purposefully erased in McHale’s presentation is that Six Nations have for hundreds of years taken their claims to ‘court’, have attempted to solve these issues through good faith negotiations, and for hundreds of years these actions have been delayed, criminalized and ignored—whether through the state enforced exile of Chief Deskaheh who brought his people’s claims to the burgeoning League of Nations, whether through the eviction of the Confederacy at RCMP gunpoint in 1924 and 1959, whether by Canada making it illegal to hire a lawyer with respect to land claims until the 1950s, whether through “the Canadian government work(ing) on the assumption that Indigenous peoples don’t hold title to disputed land,” or whether through “the current federal claims process (which) is painfully slow and inherently unjust.”

In McHale’s account the reclamation seems to have fallen from the sky, much like his rule of law, without notice or warning. When the land was reclaimed indefinitely by Six Nations in February 2006 they had already notified Henco Industries on several occasions that the company was in fact building on contested land. While Canada claims that this land was ceded on January 18th, 1841, Six Nations dispute this. In fact, colonial records show that on February 4th and July 7th 1841 and then again in 1843 the Confederacy petitioned the Crown indicating that they had only agreed to lease the land. And yet with all of McHale’s critiques of the police and the government, he claims it was Six Nations who broke the peace and claim that the police and government are not fulfilling their “duty” to summarily evict Six Nations from the land. I suppose what McHale would like to see is another Ipperwash, where the OPP go in with guns a-blazing, McHale does after all organize with the former president of ONFIRE, a group who held rallies supporting the OPP officer who shot and killed Dudley George. Indeed McHale’s love for tough-no nonsense-rule of law-cowboys was seen in his excitement when Fantino was named OPP commissioner. His love quickly dwindled however when Fantino found McHale to be a “troublemaker”. It’s a fickle sort of love affair McHale has with the “rule of law,” he likes it when it comes down hard on Indigenous people but not him. The hypocrisy, double standards, and double speak that defines McHale’s work, was also highlighted in Vandermaas’ presentation.

Vandermaas claimed he spoke ‘on behalf’ of the victims of Caledonia, and was almost brought to tears once again when he began to talk about “Dancer.” Having left CANACE recently Vandermaas has started the “Caledonia Victim’s Project”, a figure of a dancer is the project’s emblem. “Dancer” is a young woman who lives on the 6th line and who at fourteen wrote a pamphlet called a “road to hope” for a school project. http://voiceofcanada.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/11-dancer-road-of-hope.pdf Though Vandermaas no longer refers to her under the pseudonym he gave her and identifies her by name, in this write up she will be referred to through the pseudonym, as I do not think the way Vandermaas uses her story is ethical or helpful to this young woman. In his presentation Vandermaas read an excerpt from “Dancer’s” diary provided to him. In it she recounts the ‘horror’ of looking out and seeing deer hanging from a lamp pole on the reclamation site. Alongside the diary, Vandermaas provided a picture of this scene. What is disturbing about the way in which Vandermaas’ uses her narrative, is perhaps best seen in this example.

It is clear from the diary entry that “Dancer” is upset about what she sees, however no where is there an explanation to “Dancer” from the adults that surround her that the deer are being prepared to be eaten. While it might be a shocking event for young people who are far removed from the process through which meat based food find its way on to their plates, the ‘horror’ she experiences is nowhere contextualized for her. I remember my brother having a similar reaction when my father, raised in Newfoundland, a fisher from the age of 5 until 19 years old, baited hooks with frogs and gutted a fish in front of him. My brother seemed deeply horrified by the manner in which my father fished, though my brother never was and never became a vegetarian. It was then that my mother, raised in the beaches of Toronto far away from the farm life my maternal grandparents had, sat my brother down and talked to him about food—particularly where meat comes from and how it is derived. It was the same conversation my parents had with my sister, when upon visiting my Uncle and Aunt’s farm, not far from Brantford, my sister witnessed how it was that chicken came onto her plate—and was deeply disturbed by the actions of my uncle to secure super. While both my sister and my brother were ‘horrified’ by the actions of people they had come to trust and love, the adults around them contextualized the feelings they were having, and helped them to see that neither my uncle nor my father were ‘horrible’ people, they were just people who prepared meat for consumption.

The way in which Vandermaas used the example of the deer in his presentation worked to ascribe ‘savagery’ to Indigenous people who ‘horrify’ young white women. Indeed the deer were nowhere presented as food in his account, and were instead decontextualized and simply presented as a sample of the ‘horror’ of Indigenous land reclamations. Nowhere in this example did someone sit down with Dancer and explain that the deer, having led a life in the wild, were now being prepared to be eaten, a better fate one might contend than the cows, chickens and pigs that are kept locked away for most of their lives only then to face mass slaughter in corporate slaughter houses and factory farms. This example underlines the importance of context, and the role of adults to contextualize and discuss the fears and feelings of the young people around them. To continue to reify Dancer’s experience of the deer as ‘horror’ is not helpful to this young woman and indeed speaks to deeper dynamics of the promulgation of ‘horror’, the reification of racist and colonial understandings, and the role of decontextualization that drive both McHale and Vandermaas’ work.

For instance in Dancer’s pamphlet she describes “It’s very sad when the 14 and 15 year old are told that if ever a native came into OUR house and tried hurting us and we defended ourselves by fighting back, we would be the ones arrested! Not the native!” Indeed it is very sad when young people who are clearly scared by the events unfolding outside their homes are lied to by the grown ups around them. Such statements indicate that Native people have a desire to cause harm to children and their families, and that they can do so with impunity, instead of underlining the reality that Indigenous people on this land have been and continue to be oppressed, and are thus far more likely to be criminalized and victimized. As lawyer Sarah Dover indicates:

“An Aboriginal is ten times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginals. They are twice as likely to be victims of violence, but more likely to be arrested or charged. They are more likely to be denied bail…And more likely to be the victim of racist and violent experiences while in custody. They are more likely to be categorized in maximum security…less likely to be given parole and more likely to be found in breach of parole for non-criminal offences (like not being where they are supposed to be at a given time.” (quoted in the Tekawennake, Oct 14, 2009)

And while the reclamation was clearly a source of fear for Dancer, I imagine the mob rallies that emerged weekly from April to May 2006 in Caledonia where youth circled around fire barrels chanting “burn Natives burn,” where adults held signs reading “don’t feed the animals natives running rampant,” and hearing shouts from adult men that the OPP should hand over their guns to them so they could take care of the “natives” did nothing to alleviate those fears. Perhaps what would have been helpful for young Dancer, would have been for someone to contextualize what was happening right next door in a longer history. Underlining, as Six Nations has repeatedly, that the conflict was not with the people of Caledonia but with the government and had to do with the ongoing theft of Six Nations land by Canadians and the Canadian government. Perhaps Dancer might have better understood what was happening had someone talked to her about the fact that many of those who were at the reclamation site were parents and grandparents standing up for the futures of their children and grandchildren. Perhaps it would have helped this young woman to know that what was happening right outside her door involved families, parents, sisters, brothers, aunties and uncles saying no to a long pattern of theft—that indeed most of the Haldimand tract has been ‘settled’ through outright fraud and theft by both the government and white settlers and that what she was witnessing was an attempt to stop this ongoing pattern. While surely this would not have alleviated all of her fears, perhaps this would have helped to put them into context and for her to be able to better understand the realities of her home on native land and to find that ‘road of hope’ she so longed for.

Wes Elliott was the last presenter on the panel, and offered what might just be that ‘road of hope.’ Elliott offered his “Formula for Peace.” He began by underlining that Six Nations are sovereign allies who entered into treaties and agreements with the Crown. Highlighting the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, Elliott spoke about the need for recognition of Indigenous land rights and Treaty rights. He emphasized that Treaties had been broken in both Caledonia and Brantford. Along side a picture of the Tree of Peace, he outlined the components for his formula: Treaties, Respect, Healing, Education, Love and Friendship.

Elliott went so far as to give an example of love, by offering hugs to both Vandermaas and McHale, two men who have compared his people’s resistance to the KKK and described it as sociopathic. Though Vandermaas accepted the hug, he later indicated that Elliott had done so in front of “aboriginal news cameras” (APTN national news were there to record this panel), implying false intentions on Elliot’s part and that it was some kind of a publicity stunt. Elliott is a member of the Hoskanigetah (Men’s Fire), a group that had been described by Vandermaas as “organized crime.” Indeed in a post that Vandermaas claims is proof that he is not racist, he indicates that there are two types of Natives: “honourable Natives” and “sociopaths.” (a racial binary akin to what Mahmood Mamdani calls good muslim/ bad muslim). By equating Six Nations land reclaimers to sociopaths and ‘evildoers’ Vandermaas implies that negotiations cannot be had with the ‘sociopaths.’ This rendering is deeply rooted in the colonial logics. The notion of the “savage war” is a long held colonial rationality that has been used for centuries to justify violence that would otherwise be deemed excessive and unlawful. The doctrine of the “savage war” follows a logic through which the laws that govern “civilized war” cannot be applied to a “savage war” as the savages do not understand reason and only understand violence. Here it is clearly seen that Vandermaas continues to use deeply colonial ideas to justify his rationale, claiming that those involved in the reclamation are ‘sociopathic’ and cannot be reasoned with. Though perhaps a long shot, it is hoped that having had the opportunity to hear the vision for peace that Elliott offered that perhaps McHale and Vandermaas will recognize the humanity and wisdom of those they attempt to dehumanize and vilify.

While they claim that it is their critics who have a political agenda, it is Gary McHale who has ran for political office on a platform of anti-native fearmongering and he is now throwing his hat into the Haldimand municipal elections to do so again. It seemed to me anyways that McHale was at the conference to advance his own agenda and notoriety, and he certainly gave himself many pats on the back. He claimed it was he who had stemmed the tides of confrontations between Caledonia residents and Six Nations, because he taught Caledonia residents how to peacefully protest. And Vandermaas commented that there were residents who definitely wanted to fight back and retaliate but “we showed them another path.”

So there you have it Caledonia you owe your ability to peacefully protest to none other than your self acclaimed spokesperson Mr. Gary McHale, “National Voice of Caledonia”—as he is now calling himself. So nice that Gary McHale not only came to civilize the “savages” but also you! Having got to know many Caledonia residents who are working towards peace and reconciliation, it’s hard to stomach watching McHale and Vandermaas speak on “behalf of you” or to claim that it is they who taught you what peace is. Even those who do support them were not well represented at this conference. Perhaps the few dozen Caledonia residents who support McHale should start to ask themselves whether they have better uses for their money besides bank rolling McHale’s attempt at self-aggrandizement. The use of Caledonia resident’s pain and experiences as means through which Vandermaas and McHale attempt to give meaning to their lives is disquieting. As one audience member said to me “Is this really helping anybody?”

McHale and Vandermaas certainly felt the heat when their presentations were not very well received during question period, though given the content of the conference they not surprisingly found some like minded friends in the crowd that day. Many in the audience scoffed and squirmed in their seats each time they compared themselves and their activities to Martin Luther King. Some audience members audibly gasped at offensive comments made by Vandermaas and McHale. This was particularly true when Vandermaas had the audacity to compare what Caledonia people have experienced to the systematic and genocidal violence of residential schools, whereby he indicated that if the federal government can offer an apology for residential schools, Six Nations can offer an apology to Caledonia residents. One professor from Mount Royal University stood and said “…I guess what really concerns me is when issues of or protests of white victimhood subsume or erase a history. When I hear a phrase “wrong has been done”, there’s no object or subject, buried in particulars, I just think it’s dangerous.”

Frances Widdowson asked Vandermaas and McHale about their tactics and attempts of raising the Canadian flag close to or on the reclamation site. Asking whether “marching through a colonized area with the symbol of the colonizer could increase tensions or make things more difficult…” McHale replied that he thought it was an extremely successful strategy as he “had to come up with a way to get media attention…” to evidence two-tiered justice. Echoing concerns of their dangerous tactics Ron Bourgeault commented “this can get out of hand…you can walk in the ghetto of Atlanta Georgia with the confederate flag, and that’s free expression, but there are limitations.”

While Vandermaas reported that the conference was a success, its poor attendance speaks otherwise. I have seen better-attended graduate conferences with much less of a budget, and a much higher quality of scholarship. At the end of the day an Indigenous student stood and spoke. Complimenting Dr. David Newhouse’s, chair of Indigenous studies at Trent University, presentation, she went on to say that overwhelming the day had been filled with negative commentary on Indigenous people, governments and issues. She indicated it did not reflect well on Mount Royal University. The moderator of the panel addressed her concern, and stated that Frances Widdowson does not represent the views of Mount Royal University. In fact many of her colleagues had refused to come to the conference because of its content. Widdowson went on to lament that she had a hard time creating “balanced” panels as so few people were willing to speak alongside many of those who participated. Even given this fact, Vandermaas and McHale were actively criticized, and professors, including intimation from Dr. Widdowson herself, underlined that their tactics and their ideas were dangerous.

Videos of the presentations can be seen at:

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Open Letter of Protest, Racism

Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum


Please add your signature  and circulate widely.

An Open Letter Protesting the Presence of Anti-Native “Militia” Leaders at the May 5th Aboriginal Policy Forum at Mount Royal University

As scholars, students and concerned citizens we are deeply troubled by the invitation of grass roots anti-Native organizers and leaders of the “Caledonia Militia” to the New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum to be held on May 5th, 2010 at Mount Royal University. Dr. Frances Widdowson personally invited Mark Vandermaas and Gary McHale to be discussants on a panel entitled “Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Rule of Law.” McHale and Vandermaas are leading figures in grassroots anti-Native organizing against the Six Nations people of the Grand River Territory in south-western Ontario; they have played key roles in the formation of a non-native “militia” aimed at repressing Indigenous land protests and they have also organized a variety of anti-Native protests, a number of which have attracted the support of neo-Nazis and far right racists. While Vandermaas and McHale claim to speak for Caledonians, their activities have consistently increased tensions in this community facing a well documented land claims dispute.

The groups that McHale and Vandermaas are involved with falsely describe Indigenous people resisting the ongoing theft of their land and the abrogation of treaty rights as “organized criminals”, “terrorists”, “lawless” and continually refer to Six Nations people protesting as “Native thugs.” McHale and Vandermaas describe themselves as ‘non-violent’ ‘human rights activists’ inspired by the vision of Martin Luther King, working to dismantle a “two-tiered justice system” that benefits Indigenous people. On March 21st 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, McHale organized an ‘anti-racist’ rally claiming that white people in the area are oppressed by ‘race-based policing’ and “Canadian Apartheid.” These alarming appropriations are an insult to the histories of anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles and to all who uphold anti-racism. The re-naming of anti-Native organizing as anti-racist struggle is an affront to the struggles of Indigenous peoples and peoples of color across the globe who have survived and continue to struggle against genocide, apartheid, and colonialism.  As scholars, students and people of conscience we need to expose the violence of this appropriation by McHale and Vandermaas, not legitimize it.

While McHale loves to sue people for defamation of his character, his inflammatory campaigns have smeared Six Nations grandmothers and mothers,  the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers,  Christian Peacemaker Teams, the provincial and Canadian governments and the OPP as either being “terrorists” or aiding and abetting “terrorism”.  McHale and Vandermaas consistently portray assertions of Indigenous sovereignty as lawless, terrorist, racist and evidence of what they term a “Native Supremacy Movement.” These understandings are not far removed from the perspectives of conference organizer, Dr. Frances Widdowson, who claims that “current demands for ‘aboriginal nationalism’ and ‘sovereignty’, because they connect land to ancestry, have more in common with the ideology of Nazi Germany than left-wing ideas.” Not surprisingly, while movements for Indigenous sovereignty gain little support from neo-Nazis, Gary McHale and his anti-Native activities certainly do.  Paul Fromm, a high profile white supremacist leader, best known for his support of holocaust denier Ernest Zundel, has actively publicized McHale and his events on the neo-nazi website Stormfront.  Fromm has been photographed at McHale led events, as have other members of neo-Nazi organizations such as the London, Ontario “Northern Alliance” group.

While McHale claims he is the “National voice of Caledonia”, neither he nor Vandermaas reside in Caledonia and they do not speak on behalf of all Caledonians. Indeed Mr. McHale was from 2007 to 2010 banned from entering Caledonia due to bail conditions stemming from the eruption of violence at one of his protests.  The Commissioner of the OPP has described McHale et al.’s actions as a ‘lightning rod’ for confrontation and violence. Many Caledonia residents are fed up with their antics, especially those who are working to heal the tensions between Caledonia and Six Nations.

We the undersigned condemn the “New Directions on Aboriginal Policy Forum’s” decision to give these anti-Native agitators an academic stage to parade their false allegations and half-truths.  Anti-Native activism and militias are not a “New Direction”, in Aboriginal policy, — in fact they represent a very old pattern of colonial activity that seeks to increase and justify violence and injustice against Indigenous peoples. We believe that the inclusion of McHale and Vandermaas in a discussion on Aboriginal Policy will serve to normalize racism, aggression, appropriation, and citizen-led militias as tools to solve localized conflicts over Indigenous lands, whereas what is needed is a recognition of Indigenous land rights, nation to nation negotiations and the peaceful settlement of land claims.  We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.

For more information and background on these issues, please go to https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/


The gopetition site has disabled the site because “GoPetition has received a legal opinion from Mr McHale arguing that contents of the petition constitute defamation in Canada. GoPetition does not offer any opinion as to whether these assertions are legally accurate. However, in these circumstances, we cannot continue to host your petition. Our actions are in no way a commentary on the validity or utility of the contents of your petition, but rather reflect our own internal policies.” It is of course interesting that the letter of protest above simply condemns the invitation of these anti-Native leaders to an academic forum on Aboriginal Policy, and that these anti-Native leaders have tried to assure that your voices will not be heard, all the while claiming that the letter is an attempt to silence them and Caledonia residents. As the letter asserts “We stand for peace and justice in Caledonia and Six Nations, and decry those who attempt to increase violence and tension through inflammatory actions and speech.” If the petition were still up, you would be able to see that the majority of Caledonia residents ensured that their names remained anonymous to the public out of concern. As one Caledonia resident wrote: ” As a resident of Caledonia I can assure you that these people are NOT Caledonia’s National Voice. Out of concern for my family from the intimidation and retaliation these people and their followers wage, I sign “Anonymous”. I encourage ALL peoples of Caledonia and Six Nations to continue to build friendships and understanding. Together through communication we will find the key and “lasting peace” will be our answer. ”

To add your signature to this open letter, please email concernedacademics@gmail.com and we will add your name along with 286 names that have signed so far. Please include: your full name, email address, province, country, university or other affiliation and any comment you would like added to the petition. It is also encouraged that you send a letter of concern yourself directly to the Mount Royal Dean and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts:

Manuel Mertin, PhD Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: mmertin@mtroyal.ca

Sabrina Reed, PhD, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts
E-mail: sreed@mtroyal.ca


Frances Widdowson and Mark Vandermaas have posted responses to this letter of Protest on their respective blogs. In both posts the authors claim that Vandermaas and McHale were never a part of the Caledonia “Militia.” Vandermaas was in attendance at the first meeting of the “Militia” in June of 2009, claimed on his blog that he fully supported it, and in a Brantford Expositor news article is described as a leader. McHale is the media spokesperson for this group. McHale also spoke at the first meeting for an hour, a clip of the speech given that day can be seen on the youtube link below. The clip is from CHCH news, and shows McHale telling the first meeting of the Caledonia “Militia” that citizens can pressure the OPP ‘into doing their jobs,’ by saying either you arrest that person “or I will.” After much negative media coverage McHale, the spokesperson for the group, announced that the group would be renamed the “Caledonia Peacekeepers” and claimed that naming the group “militia” was designed to create press for the group. Whatever the reasoning the group planned to effect citizens arrests of people engaging in what McHale has termed “native lawlessness.” While Flemming, a close associate of both Vandermaas and McHale, claimed that the group would arrest anyone breaking the law, the group was clearly organized with respect to Six Nations resistance to the ongoing theft of their land.

Caledonia “Militia”:

For further information on Gary McHale’s protests, police responses and former bail conditions please go to:

To see evidence of Neo-Nazi attendance and advertisement of McHale led events please go to:

To Read Widdowson’s and Vandermaas’ responses:

Widdowson: http://blogs.mtroyal.ca/fwiddowson/

Vandermaas: http://caledoniavictimsproject.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/native-militants-cupe-try-to-intimidate-university-into-silence-re-caledonia-victims/

Vandermaas’ response is entitled “Native militants & CUPE try to intimidate university into silence re Caledonia victims.” Once again any organizing against McHale and Vandermaas gets accorded to “Native Militants”. This letter was written by non-Native academics concerned by the invitation of two men to an academic forum who continuously cast Six Nations people protesting the continued theft of their land as “terrorists”, “militants”, “thugs,” “criminals”, “sociopaths” and as a part of a “Native Supremacy Movement.” They have gone so far as to post a picture of a Six Nations man with a KKK hood superimposed. Here is a link to a page posted on Caledonia Wake Up Call where author Gary McHale continuously refers to “the Natives,” and “their” shared ideology with the KKK.


Filed under Anti-Native Activism, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Open Letter of Protest, Racism

Upping the Anti & Hamilton FreeSkool present: Countering Right Wing Backlash & Building First Nations Solidarity

Hamilton FreeSkool Practical Solidarity and Upping the Anti Present:

Anti-Native Organizing & the “Caledonia Crisis”: Countering Right Wing Backlash and Building Indigenous Solidarity in Settler Communities.

Wednesday, January 13th 7pm @ the Skydragon Center (27 King William St Hamilton)

Presentations, Discussion & Launch Event for Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action #9


The Six Nations people of the Grand River territory have been faced with a steadily increasing level of anti-Native organizing since they began the reclamation of the “Douglas Creek Estates” housing development in Caledonia in February of 2006. In addition to the large anti-native protests held by local residents, anti-native activists (who claim to speak on behalf of all non-natives) have organized a “militia” to oppose “native lawlessness,” have held protests against native smoke shops, and have supported actions of local governments to criminalize Six Nations land defenders. At the same time, there have been some important initiatives over the past several years that have seen non-native activists organize in solidarity with Six Nations and work on building on going relationships of solidarity and struggle.

Please join us on Wednesday January 13th at the Sky Dragon Centre for this public talk and to celebrate the launch of UTA Number 9.

About the presenters:

Katie Milley is a member of the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group and the author of _“Where is John Wayne when you need him?”: Anti-Native Organizing & the “Caledonia Crisis”_ In Upping the Anti #9. Tom Keefer is an editorial committee member of Upping the Anti, an activist with the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, and the author of several articles on Six Nations land struggles.

About the facilitator:

Niki Thorne facilitates Hamilton FreeSkool’s ‘Decolonizing Practical Solidarity’ class and is also a member of CUPE 3903’s First Nations Solidarity Working Group.  She’s written several articles about Six Nations land struggles and anti-native activism for Mayday Magazine and has co-authored a forthcoming book chapter about the same.

For more information about this event please contact uppingtheanti@gmail.com or check out www.uppingtheanti.org

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism