Archive for July, 2008

Native blockade halted after disconnection orders cease

Posted in Maliseet Nation, Resistance on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Tobique, NB Power reach consensus
Protest halted after disconnection orders cease

Victoria Star [New Brunswick]
Published Wednesday July 30th, 2008

Tobique First Nations residents hold signs protesting the construction of the Tobique Narrow hydroelectric facility more than 50 years ago. The protesters complained that NB Power has never honoured an agreement to provide the reserve with free electricity.
Mark Rickard photo

The half century-old disagreement on the construction of Tobique Narrows dam by the New Brunswick Electric Power Corporation bubbled to the surface again last week as Tobique First nation residents staged a protest and occupied the hydroelectric facility. At press time Tuesday protesters said the hydroelectric facility is now under NB Power control as natives still negotiate with the corporation.

Tobique residents, who held a sit-in on a small section of grass between Highway 105 and Larley Road, reported to the Victoria Star they were fed up with NB Power harassing Tobique residents about unpaid power bills. The natives contend that NB Power agreed to provide free electricity to the reserve when the dam was constructed on reserve land in 1953.

Protest organizer Hart Perley stated because Tobique First Nation was under third party management, the chief and council decided that the only power bills paid by the band would be social service recipients. That meant that 65 elders and others under the band’s collective power agreement now faced unpaid bills of $3,000 to $10,000.

“The community members started coming in and stating they didn’t want to pay for their hydro bills anymore.

There were community members that were threatened to be disconnected if they didn’t pay in full,” Perley stated.

“They can’t even begin to pay these horrendous arrears.”

Perley said Tobique natives feel NB Power built the dam on land that belonged to the reserve, and Tobique First Nation should be benefitting from the electricity being generated at the facility.

“The chiefs at the time and it is well documented, they were against the building of this dam, and expressed that numerous times. But Indian Affairs, the New Brunswick government and the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission knew this. Chief Peter Bear told them if we can’t stop them we should be compensated with free power for all residents and businesses in our community.

But it still fell on deaf ears.”

Other Tobique chiefs have tried to negotiate with NB Power but have been ignored by the utility.

“I was fed up with the frustrations of my community and people, and decided to speak out against this injustice,” Perley stated.

After natives told NB Power workers they had to leave the hydroelectric facility or be locked in, the workers left peacefully.

But after several days occupying the land around the facility, the protesters announced that NB Power had agreed not to threaten Tobique natives with disconnection.

“There was some electrical service that needed to be done in the community and they are doing it. They agreed to restore electricity to several homes and perform some needed maintenance work at the dam,” Perley stated. “We have also requested a meeting with the president of NB Power, the Indian Affairs minister, Minister of Energy, New Brunswick Aboriginal Affairs secretariat, Tobique Chief and Council and community members.”

In an e-mail sent to the protesters, NB Power also offered to forgive the unpaid arrears of 65 elders until June 2008, with the Tobique residents expected to pay their electrical bill after July 1.

“I haven’t replied to that, but the elders are saying no. Our stand is that Tobique First Nation will not pay hydro and we are not deterring from that stand,” Perley stated. “We are going to continue our discussions.”

NB Power officials would not comment on whether the hydroelectric facility was occupied by the protesters.

Heather MacLean, media relations manager said NB Power has had discussions with Tobique residents for some time.

“It’s a sensitive topic, and we want to speak directly to our customers on sensitive issues,” she stated. “We had employees at the facility yesterday.”

The NB power official confirmed the Tobique Narrows hydroelectric facility can be operated remotely.

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Kanehsatake Mohawks barricaded Quebec highway following police intervention

Posted in Repression, Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Kanesatake Mohawks barricaded Quebec highway following police intervention

The Canadian Press
July 26, 2008

Kanesatake, Que. — Kanesatake Mohawks barricaded a Quebec highway early Saturday following an intervention by the Quebec provincial police.

Police say 12 to 15 individuals blocked Highway 344 near the town of Oka by dragging trees into the road and setting them on fire.

Police contacted the Mohawk band council, who convinced the individuals to end the blockade.

The road was cleared by Quebec Transport Ministry employees by 10 a.m..

Two police vehicles were damaged during the incident.

Charges are expected to be laid against a number of individuals involved in the barricade.

Six Nations people take aim at hotel project

Posted in Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Natives take aim at hotel project
‘They can work today, but that’s it’

Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, EXPOSITOR STAFF
Brantford Expositor [Ontario]
July 19, 2008

Native protesters in the city’s north end moved down the road Friday morning.

They set up a large teepee at the edge of the Hampton Inn hotel site on Fen Ridge Court after successfully halting construction of the nearby Kingspan Insulation warehouse and headquarters.

“They can work today,” said one man about the construction on the six-storey hotel, “but that’s it. They were told by our chiefs a week and a half ago to stop and yet they continue to build.”

Workers on the Hampton site were pouring concrete and finished the day without incident.

About a dozen protesters continue to monitor the area, joined at times by others bearing coffee and fast food.

“We are 100 per cent backed by our people,” said one when asked about how much support for their action could be found on Six Nations.

Meanwhile, there are rumbles of concern among city councillors that Kingspan officials are re-examining plans to build in the city. There’s talk the Irish firm plans to pull out if the protesters are still around the site on Monday.

City Mayor Mike Hancock declined to speculate.

“I have no information on what Kingspan’s intentions are,” he said Friday afternoon.

Both projects are included in a temporary injunction granted to city to stop native protests from holding up development.

On Friday, natives at the Fen Ridge construction site were joined by Dawn Smith who, along with Janie Jamieson, started the protest more than two years ago that took over Caledonia’s Douglas Creek Estates.

“We sat down (to talk) with people for more than two months before making a move,” Smith said. “You might see just two people here or 200 people here but when the natives need to come together in unity, they will come.”

But there are cracks. Some Six Nations members have never publicly embraced the route of protest over negotiation.

David General, former band council chief, said he’s been fielding phone calls from people who are upset at the ongoing protests.

He tells them to take their concerns to the current council but he can’t help but express his feelings about where the occupation is leading.

“Support for the protest is not universal on the reserve,” General said.

“There’s no disputing there are outstanding issues of land claims and I think 100 per cent of Six Nations would support resolving them but people are trying to thwart development in order to hurry up the claims talks and it’s not going to work.”

“SETTLE THINGS”

General said he supports negotiations, which are on a summer break, but has made it plain he doesn’t support the Confederacy chiefs who have been given a lead mandate at the table.

“We have Ontario’s attention and Canada’s attention and the city’s attention: now turn it over to someone with the skills to settle things.”

Hancock has also been exposed to both sides of the debate through phone calls from natives and non-natives who decry the protesters and support them.

“People are upset about what’s going on and feel it’s bad for our relationship. I’m concerned about it. It certainly won’t make our relationship better.”

Six Nations community activist Lisa VanEvery showed up for protest July 7 but can’t see herself blocking a development on an ongoing basis.

“I don’t want Brantford to be another Caledonia, but the sit-in protest is a strategy that some people are using. I understand why they’re doing it because it’s the only way people are listening.”

That’s a common theme among natives: many don’t like the protest but they acknowledge that it’s the first technique that’s shown real results as far as stopping the ongoing development on land they consider to be theirs.

Historian and university professor Keith Jamieson said natives have tried negotiation, court actions and information sessions.

“The only thing that seems to have an impact is if we inconvenience others,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily agree with in-your- face protests, but they’re coming from the fact our people feel like no one is respecting us.”

Jamieson likened the situation to sitting at the negotiation table while someone is building a fence and erecting a shed in your backyard.

“It’s antagonistic.”

He’s calling for more creative thinking to end the impasse.

“I kind of like the developers’ proposal because at least it came at things from a different angle.”

On Fen Ridge Court, protesters said Friday they are angry about what they call intimidation tactics by a couple of teens the previous night. Two young men in a red truck turned into the court and burned rubber marks in the circle.

“When the truck started backing toward us,” said one man, “we jumped up and grabbed rocks. We’re not going to stand for it. Anyone caught doing these things here will be made an example of.”

Six Nations people block job site over land dispute

Posted in Repression, Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Natives block Ont. job site over land dispute


Glenn Lowson for National Post
Native protests over continuing construction in a Brantford industrial park escalated Monday morning with an arrest of a protester who allegedly blocked a truck from entering the construction site.

Craig Offman, National Post
Published: Monday, July 14, 2008

BRANTFORD, Ont. — Tensions over native land claims in Southern Ontario flared again Monday morning as a protester blocked a cement truck’s access to a building site and then allegedly assaulted a police officer.

The brief escalation of what had been a peaceful protest led officials in Brantford and Ottawa to draw analogies to Caledonia, a nearby city whose protracted land dispute has led to occasional, violent outbreaks and an economic downturn.

The disagreement in Brantford stems from plans to build an insulation factory and headquarters on land that is subject to a long-outstanding native land claim.

“I wouldn’t have thought [the comparison to Caledonia] was possible until today,” said Mayor Mike Hancock, adding that property settlement is a federal and provincial issue and that officials from both government ministries have been slow to respond. “We’re collateral damage in all of this, and we feel it.”

Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Bryant Monday spoke with Mr. Hancock, and the provincial minister’s office said action is needed from his federal counterpart.

“We’re continuing to monitor the situation. The underlying issue here is a 200-year-old land claim against the federal government, so the federal government needs to accelerate the negotiations leading to a resolution of this issue,” said Greg Crone, Mr. Bryant’s press secretary.

The Six Nations claim ownership of the area as part of a historical treaty that they allege was not properly honoured. The local government received a temporary injunction in May that prohibits interference with development on the site — owned by Ireland-based Kingspan — and several other nearby properties.

Ron Doering, the chief federal negotiator on land claims issues, said he is discouraged that protesters have begun occupying the Brantford site and believes the standoff echoes what occurred at Douglas Creek Estates, in Caledonia, before the housing development was sold to the province.

“The Six Nations are the people we are dealing with with the various direct actions at Caledonia and we’re starting to see direct actions in Brantford right now, actually. So, it doesn’t have the potential [to become like Caledonia]; it’s actually happening,” Mr. Doering said Monday.

“We continue to believe that the best way to resolve these long-standing claims is to do it at the table. Clearly, the direct actions are not helpful in that regard, in my experience.”

The Brantford government also awaits a decision from Ontario Superior Court on whether the city can call on Canadian Forces in the event of mass unrest. It has also asked for $110-million in damages from native groups, citing economic impact. The Kingspan project was intended to bring 200 jobs to the area.

All legal recourse seemed distant, however, Monday morning.

According to police, officers were escorting two trucks to the site to remove some cement at around 8:30 a.m., when a man stood in front of the vehicles and disobeyed an officer’s request to stand down. During the process of his arrest, the man allegedly punched the officer in the face.

Police headquarters was notified about the events at 8:49 a.m. and dispatched additional staff to negotiate. Shortly after 9 a.m., the trucks again tried to enter the site when a crowd of 20 or so natives converged on a group of policemen.

“While attempting to stop the advancement of the protesters, one officer was struck in the face by a male at a time when his attention was focused on another protester advancing in the opposite direction,” said a police statement issued Monday afternoon.

“The assailant disappeared amongst the remaining protesters and fled the area through the adjacent bush.”

Six Nations observers say that the arrested man, whose identity has not been revealed, did not provoke the officer, but was confronted when he tried to talk to one of the drivers. As he was being pulled away, native witnesses said, his hand slipped, hitting the officer.

Donal Curtin, Kingspan’s general manager, said police told him to lock the gates outside the site and remain inside.

He said in a response to e-mailed questions Monday that workers trying to enter the area received death threats.

“On multiple occasions today, contractors working on the site or delivering material to the site, had their lives threatened,” he wrote. “These events have been reported to the Brantford Police. The people who made the threats were not arrested as far as I know.”

Police spokesmanKent Pottruff said he did not have specific details of those allegations, but that potential criminal activity would be investigated.

By Monday afternoon, several pick-up trucks were parked around the mouth of the site. Six Nations flags flapped in the wind, while about six police cars lingered on the margins.

“This is war,” said Steve Powless, a spokesman for the Six Nations protesters, standing outside the fence of the Kingspan site, outside of which there were two canvas tents and a teepee where about a dozen natives had been sleeping over the weekend. “I’m a solider. I’m here to fight.”

“These people should go home and leave our land alone,” added Mr. Powless, a sculptor who lives on the nearby reserve, by some estimates the most populous in the country.

He said that the group would remain at the site indefinitely.

Another native, who refused to give his name, insisted that his people were protecting their own land, not protesting the use of it. “This is not going to stop until the federal government steps and solves these land issues,” he said. “They’re patenting deeds here they haven’t paid for.”

Ignoring injunction, Six Nations people stop work at development sites

Posted in Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

‘Today is the first day of taking back our territory’
Ignoring injunction, native protesters stop work at development sites

BY SUSAN GAMBLE, EXPOSITOR STAFF; THE BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR [Ontario]
July 8, 2008

Brian Thompson A representative of STM Construction (right) tries to stop native protesters Monday morning from taking down a locked gate at the Fen Ridge Court construction site for the Kingspan Insulation industrial plant and headquarters.

Natives ignored a court injunction Monday by marching onto development sites across the city.

Construction was halted at five projects as about 150 native protesters burst onto dusty work sites and ordered employees to shut down equipment.

“Our people have been patient and today our patience has run out,” said Seneca sub-chief Butch Thomas.

“Any new development in this area or on our land has got to stop. Today is the first day of taking back our territory.”

Mayor Mike Hancock wasn’t happy with the turn of events.

“We’re very disappointed that the demonstrations have started again,” he said prior to

Monday’s council meeting.

“Our legal counsel is advising the city to take immediate steps to enforce the court injunction,” he told Expositor reporter Cheryl Bauslaugh.

However, Hancock stopped short of saying what those steps should be.

Coun. John Sless said the demonstrators can’t be allowed to ignore the injunction.

“There are ramifications to breaking a law,” he said. “It’s unfortunate but it has to be dealt with.”

Monday’s rolling protest was largely peaceful, with natives calling, “Have a good day off!” to departing workers.

But there was underlying anger, too. Female protesters called out sharply to bricklayers who opted to finish an area of work before putting down their trowels at the partially done Hampton Inn site on Fen Ridge Court, in the city’s northwest area.

When the protesters moved along Fen Ridge Court to the construction site for Kingspan Insulation’s new headquarters and industrial plant, they found all the workers, their cars and equipment were behind a locked eight-foot metal fence.

“We can put you down if we have to,” yelled one native, as several Confederacy chiefs argued with a site official, insisting he open the gate and stop work.

When the worker refused, saying the land belonged to the developers, several natives simply lifted a portion of the metal fence out of its moorings and swung it out like a garden gate. When it toppled, the natives walked over it and swarmed over the enormous property, ranging out to where huge earth-movers were operating and insisting the work stop.

At each site, the protesters waited patiently for the workers to shut down equipment, pack up their tools and move out of the area, often waving goodbye.

It’s the first time that Confederacy chiefs, such as Allen MacNaughton, Ron Thomas and Butch Thomas, have publicly supported the land protesters.

One woman suggested the chiefs had been urged to make a stand by the Six Nations clanmothers.

The chiefs were joined by several clanmothers, Mohawk members and one elected band councillor — Melba Thomas — in a crowd that at times may have numbered more than 200.

“This is to show the support of the chiefs,” said MacNaughton.

“The city has accelerated things to hurry and cover up our land. They’ve interfered with our people’s rights to free speech and tried to silence our voices.”

At the first two sites visited, city police Insp. Scott Easto was clear in telling the natives they were breaking, not only the city bylaw against protests at those sites, but the temporary court injunction against the action.

“You’re breaking the law,” Easto said several times. “You’re breaking the injunction.”

Later, Easto said the protesters had been clearly notified their actions were illegal.

While protesters like Floyd and Ruby Montour, who were named specifically in the injunction, remained on the road, outside of the actual work sites, Easto said it didn’t matter.

“The injunction names a number of people but it also names Jane and John Doe, which covers everyone. These people are breaking the law.”

No arrests were made.

Ruby Montour was clearly worried that she might have been arrested if she went onto the disputed sites.

“I’m a surety for someone so I can’t afford to get charged,” said Montour, noting she was pleased at the turnout.

“We only did this in one day. There’d be more if we had the time.”

The protest was called during a Saturday afternoon Confederacy meeting and the plan was spread by word of mouth.

Several of the chiefs and bench-warmers, as chiefs in waiting are called, wearing their ceremonial headdresses, posed for pictures with one of the injunction signs warning against protesting at the site.

Grandmothers, wearing ribbon dresses and sandals and carrying umbrellas to protect them from the sun, wandered around the earth-moving machines on the construction sites. Several small children were also in the group.

In the afternoon, the rolling protest moved to the city’s southwest area where work was stopped on a retirement village on Diana Avenue, off Shellard Lane.

Site manager Terry Donovan talked peacefully with the natives, explaining that communication was the most important thing to keep the peace.

“It’s the governments that need to address this problem,” Donovan said. “We’re just innocent bystanders.”

“They’re hanging you out to dry,” agreed Butch Thomas.

Ron Thomas said the natives do not respect the courts the city is relying on for its injunction.

“The city of Brantford and the people of Brantford don’t know how deeply they have hurt the Six Nations people. They have grieved us.”

Thomas said that some natives feel so alienated they are now opting not to shop in Brantford.

He acknowledged the workers who peacefully stopped their tasks at each site and the police officers who worked to ensure everyone remained peaceful.

After stopping work at the Bell Lane Retirement Village on Diana, which is south of the new Wyndfield Community Church, some protesters also went to stop grading equipment moving in the site to the north of the church building.

Then the natives moved down the road to Conklin and Shellard Lane where a housing subdivision is going in.

A last stop was made at Birkett Lane and Erie Avenue where the city was expected to be working on servicing the site for a 99-house subdivision.

But with no workers on the site, the group’s attention turned to a home that was being demolished between Erie Avenue and Mohawk Street and stopped the work.

Six Nations man arrested and charged over blockade

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

NATIVE PROTESTER CHARGED

Toronto Sun
July 18, 2008

CAYUGA — A 25-year-old aboriginal protester was arrested yesterday for actions that allegedly occurred during a highway blockade in Caledonia in April.

Skyler Williams of Ohsweken, Ont., has been charged with breach of probation and breach of recognizance. Provincial police declined to comment on what led to Williams’ arrest.

Shawn Brant Released from Custody!

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on July 31, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Shawn Brant Released from Custody!

Tyendinaga Support Committee
June 27, 2008

After 62 days in jail, Shawn Brant has finally been released from custody! Shawn was being held on trumped up charges alleging he had assaulted a white local businessman during recent road blockades aimed at stopping a development planned on stolen Mohawk land. The blockades succeeded in convincing the developer to back off.

Charges arose when eager OPP officers learned that Shawn had challenged two racist locals (the LaLondes) when they attacked a small group of mainly Mohawk women and children. LaLonde flew into a rage when he was turned back at the roadblock, wielding a bat at protesters, and hitting a woman with his car. Although Mohawks called 911 the police never laid any charges against Lalonde.

Instead they focused in on Shawn, who had come upon the scene and demanded that the attackers leave. Shawn was arrested and held in pre-trial custody. His trial began yesterday when he was released as part of a plea bargain.

The trial was proceeding extremely well and a plea was brokered. Shawn pled guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon (his fishing spear) and breaching the conditions of his previous release. He was cleared of the assault charge. If the trial had proceeded he may well have been found innocent of all charges–however, given that the courts can’t be trusted to do justice and Shawn has already served over two months away from his children including his infant son he decided to take the plea.

Shawn was released on time served. The Crown will not seek to revoke his previous bail. He will also serve 12 months probation on terms similar to his already existing conditions.

Resistance continues in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, despite the repression. The quarry reclamation is holding strong and people continue to meet and organize around the Longhouse, the traditional site of Mohawk governance.