Solidarity With Six Nations

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tuesday night at the Bookshelf’s Green Room, a small but scrappy group of eager listeners gathered to stand in solidarity with the Six Nations occupation at the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia. The speaker was Six Nations spokesperson Jacqueline House, a member of the Cayuga Turtle Clan who’s been living on sight for the duration of the occupation.

House’s talk touched on a number of different issues related to the situation in Caledonia, but three things stuck out the most. One is the need for a resolution to the occupation including the involvement of Federal politicians and Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, who House believes has a responsibility as the Queen’s representative to help resolve the occupation due to agreements made by the Crown dating back to the reign of King George III.

Another thing that was of great concern to House was the portrayal of her people in the national and mainstream media; she thinks that the members of the Six Nations taking part in the occupation have been vilified as terrorists and criminals. According to House, the exact opposite is true, she says that it has been the OPP that has behaved rashly and went further by inviting the gathered crowd to go to the occupation sight and see for themselves.

Finally, House was particularly adamant that Superior Court Justice David Marshall needs to recuse himself from the case due to his conflicts of interest; which include being a landowner himself, and a reference in a book he wrote where Justice Marshall called himself an honourary chief of the Six Nations people.

After her talk, The Cannon was able to sit down and talk to House one-on-one. When asked about the spirits of her fellow occupiers House said that their spirits were good, but everyone still has a serious cause for concern about whether or not the police will enter the sight to end the occupation with extreme severity

House is also optimistic given Ontario government’s decision a few weeks ago to buy out the land from the developer. House sees this as a good sign because, “it gets rid of the third party.” The point being that this was never the government’s land to sell in the first place.

Another matter of media that House clarified was the reaction of Caledonia residents to the ongoing occupation. Much of the media coverage has made it seem as if the situation in the town is a real “us versus them” proposition; House says though that a great number of residents have been very supportive. She especially recognizes Ken Hewitt, a spokesperson for the Caledonia Citizens' Alliance, whom she says has been a “real thorn” in the side of the developers.

Another matter of Aboriginal rights that has recently been in the news is how the Federal budget all but cancelled the Kelowna Accord by not committing to the promised funding. “We’ll see about that,” says House with a laugh, “the fact that they’re trying to undermine us doesn’t come as a surprise, they’ve always been against us being recognized and trying to classify us as hostile.”

Recently, House wrote an open letter trying to entice some involvement on the Federal level. “If that’s the step we have to take to resolve this: fine,” says House, “but if it were up to me, I’d walk all over them and go straight to the Queen.” As for getting support from Michaëlle Jean; “I sent her am e-mail a few weeks ago, but there’s been no response back, so I’ll be sending her an official letter [Wednesday].”

But for House it seems to be about small victories, as she feels that one of the best ways to help resolve the crisis is to, “have the media stop slandering our people with their bias. You look at our children and see that they suffer from the racial insights.”

Those gathered at the meeting also passed a motion that read as follows,

“We are here to express our support for the Six Nations people.
We support an early and just settlement for the land claim in Caledonia, and call on the federal and provincial government to enter into good faith negotiations immediately
We condemn the violence against the Six Nations people, which must stop and the government must assure that it stops
We demand that Judge Marshall step down as he has misused his authority, by his refusal to step down
Judge Marshall is a landowner and he has a direct interest in the land, and should step down for this reason.”

The evening’s talk proved one thing: that the public at large is probably vastly ill informed about the real situation in Caledonia. Throughout the summer, the Six Nations will be holding other solidarity events across the province.

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