Protestors moved a blockade from Argyle Street in Caledonia to the Highway 6 bypass on Monday. – Photo by Tamara Botting On Monday afternoon, the blockade moved from Argyle St. to the Hwy 6 bypass. – The Hamilton Spectator Argyll Street in Caledonia remains closed with OPP on site at the Douglas Creek Estates property. – Cathie Coward,The Hamilton Spectator Supporters of the Haudenosanee Confederacy block Argyle Street in Caledonia. – Cathie Coward,The Hamilton Spectator CALEDONIA — It’s hard to know what’s going on at the Indigenous protest barricade in Caledonia, never mind what it all means.
For days, rumours were swirling on social media and some news sites that the Argyle Street barrier would be moved to the Hwy. 6 overpass.
That eventually did happen on Monday afternoon, offering some relief to frustrated business and homeowners.
But for much of the long weekend, determining what exactly was happening with the Caledonia blockade was a challenge.
Since Aug. 10, supporters of the hereditary government, known as the Haudenosanee Confederacy, have tended the barricade on the town’s main thoroughfare. The protesters are demanding senior governments return to the negotiating table to give a 154-hectare area — known as the Burtch lands — to the confederacy instead of the Six Nations Elected Band Council.
I went to the site Saturday, hoping to get a better understanding of the situation. OPP officers at the north end of the kilometre or so of barricaded road were friendly, but unable to officially comment on the situation. Officers at scenes almost always need to punt media inquiries on to someone further away who is authorized to talk. So no surprise there.
The officers at the roadblock told Spectator photographer Cathie Coward and me we were welcome to walk down to the barrier itself to try to talk with the protesters.
As we walked, Cath and I reminisced about the hours we spent on that same stretch of road 11 years ago, covering the first protest there. Then, we were sharing the pavement with a volatile crowd of police, journalists, protesters and agitators.
Now, in that no man’s land between the OPP and the protesters, we were all alone.
When we reached the small, ramshackle barricade made of steel and wood, two men came from their camp to meet us.
The camp is in a field that was the former Douglas Creek Estates, the disputed land from the original 2006 protests, which the protesters call Kanonhstaton ("The Protected Place.") Beyond a locked gate, the protesters have a fire and tents. The camp is set back just a bit from the road, making it hard to see from back where the OPP vehicles sit. One woman on Twitter ranted about police leaving the barrier there even when no protesters were around. But the protesters are there. They have been there just shy of a month.
One of the men shook my hand and said the gossip about moving the barricade was only a rumour. The other man spoke only in his Indigenous language.
The entire exchange lasted just a minute or two.
It was not hostile, but also not particularly helpful.
On Saturday night, there were posts on Twitter about possible trouble at the blockade. Something burning on the nearby train tracks.
Haldimand County OPP Const. Rod LeClair says police saw a group of people headed on to the tracks, in the dark. Officers followed and found wooden pallets on fire.The investigation into that act of mischief is ongoing, says LeClair and no charges have been laid.By Sunday, there were reports from protesters that they had been threatened with arrest.So I went back out to Caledonia.There were different OPP officers at the […]
Rumours swirl around Caledonia blockade
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