Caledonia land dispute still simmering 1 year later
- Caledonia land dispute still simmering 1 year later
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | 8:59 AM ET
A federal negotiator locked in the bitter land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., said Wednesday on the one-year anniversary of the standoff that the government and the native protesters have a "historic opportunity."
"We have made progress, we have established trust, and we are working together on some of the side issues," Barbara McDougall told CBC Newsworld.
A poster in a Caledonia store window sums up the feelings of many property owners in the community.
(CBC) "This is a historic opportunity for the Six Nations and the federal government and the province," she said, reasoning the ongoing talks are the first time that the federal government has dealt directly with the traditional council of the Six Nations.
Although some government and Six Nations negotiators have expressed dismay about a quick resolution being far from their grasp, McDougall said pressures to reach a breakthrough by a certain date would not necessarily be the best course.
"Putting deadlines on things is not helpful because it just makes people defensive and they want to get their point out there further," she said.
Wednesday marks one year since the land row first erupted between housing developers and native protesters in the town about an hour southwest of Toronto.
Federal negotiations will return to talks on March 7, but while the ongoing discussions have lifted roadblocks and pacified the early days of violent clashes, federal negotiator Ron Doering said he does not foresee a settlement soon.
'Sad that it's come to this'
"I have personally seen since April that much of the frustration has gone to anger and in some [cases] worse," he said. "It's really sad that it's come to this."
Not far from the unfinished houses where Six Nations protesters settled in for the winter, Caledonia resident Christine Neill said the town is in mourning.
"We're still in the same situation we were in a year ago," she said.
Like many other townsfolk, Neill is fed up with the 12-month standoff and she's angry with the lack of government action.
"We don't want there to be an occupation in this town - there will be no peace as long as people occupy the land," she said.
Tensions have been brewing for two centuries.
Ontario has said the Six Nations gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new highway, but the demonstrators claim the land was stolen from aboriginals more than 200 years ago.
Protesters attempted to stop construction on the land by Henco Industries in February 2006 and blocked a main road into the town, frustrating townsfolk and leading to an intense standoff that escalated into a spate of violent clashes and arrests.
The provincial government later paid $15.8 million to Henco Industries to buy the land and put it into trust until the dispute is resolved.
The Six Nations filed a land claims suit over the area in 1999.
Caledonia Land Claim
Nil Koksal reports for CBC-TV (Runs: 2:49)
Play: QuickTime »
Play: Real Media »
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]