Province hopes to help cool divide over Caledonia blockade removal

A large number of Ontario Provincial Police officers arrived in Caledonia, Ontario on Friday,...

A large number of Ontario Provincial Police officers arrived in Caledonia, Ontario on Friday, January 27, 2011 ahead of a planned rally by protester Gary McHale at the Douglas Creek Estates reclamation site. McHale was arrested after posting racist signs at the site where, in February 2006, native activists occupied a residential construction site. BRIAN THOMPSON/BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR

Michael-Allan Marion, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:18 PM ET

OHSWEKEN, Ont. — The Ontario government is stepping in to help mend fences in the hopes of taking one big one down in Caledonia, where the county is delicately trying to remove a controversial Native blockade.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer's office is setting up a summit meeting with Six Nations chiefs and Haldimand County officials to find a “viable solution” after the county agreed to start tearing down the blockade at the former housing development site.

The barrier was erected in 2006 after Six Nations Haudenosaunee activists claimed the piece of real estate was Native land.

After rounds of negotiations, and often violent clashes between residents, Native protesters and police, the province finally bought out the developers for $16 million.

Talks to resolve the impasse have since stalled.

Last week, the county said it was time for the barrier to be removed, put a contractor on call and asked police to help keep the peace while the work was being done.

That angered the Six Nations band, who said the decision would only “deepen the divide on all sides.”

No date or place for the meeting has been confirmed.

“We hope to have our concerns recognized and Six Nations hopes to have theirs recognized,” Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt said Friday. “Somewhere between the two is where we hope to land.”

Chief Ava Hill said in an e-mail that she was withholding comment until the meeting date is confirmed and after she's had a discussion with the Six Nations council.

michael-allan.marion@sunmedia.ca

 


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