KANONHSTATON – In the Summer of 2006, a 45’ trailer located on the troubled former Douglas Creek Estates land was set ablaze by persons unknown, as was a cookhouse and gate house located at the Argyle Street entrance of the proposed housing development. A native owned smoke hut located close by was also targeted by unknown arsonists. All arsons were carried out with Molotov cocktails.
Many people from Six Nations have assumed that these actions were carried out by Caledonia citizens or their supporters. The arsons came in a context where Six Nations land protectors have taken over and occupied the partially built housing development, claiming the land was never surrendered for sale, and as such, still belonged to Six Nations.
That summer through to the next made the town of Caledonia one of Canada’s hottest spots for Native activism and protest, attracting news reporters and supporters on both sides from across Turtle Island (North America).
Eventually a calm returned and the near daily clashes between Caledonia residents and members of Six Nations subsided into a tenuous peace. Ontario purchased the land from the developer with promises to return it, should it be proven that the land, in fact, was never properly surrendered. Other parcels of land were also offered for return to the Six Nations land base through tri-level negotiations between the Federal government, the Province and Six Nations. The negotiation eventually broke down when the federal Conservatives refused to return to the negotiations table.
Over the years since, the burned out trailer, facing Highway #6 (Argyle Street) has stood as something of a memorial to the racism and hatred that was so prevalent in those days.
Several attempts have been made by Caledonia Council and the Province in the subsequent years to have the eye-sore removed, but some Six Nations residents would not allow that to happen, thinking it should say as a constant reminder.
Last week, it is assumed with the approval of most Six Nations residents, the trailer was towed away as a gesture of peace and reconciliation.
It is all part of the restoration and renovations of the barren land stripped of its topsoil by developers before the “reclamation” by Six Nations. A fence is being constructed around the land to prevent a small pocket of Haldimand provocateurs under the leadership of Gary McHale, who have been organizing periodical protests and publicity stunts to keep the wounds from those tense days in 2006 and 2007 from healing.
Earlier, a partially constructed hydro tower that was used as a barricade by the Six Nations land protectors was removed as well. A front gate is being constructed by Bear Iron Welding, which will span across the entrance of the site, using parts from that symbolic tower.
A cleanup plan by Six Nations, negotiated through the Haudenosaunee Development Institute on behalf of the Confederacy, has begun to improve the aesthetic appearance of the land, and hopefully, to bring the former farmland back to life.
Kawaowene is the latest Six Nations resident to remain on the site to “hold it” on behalf of Six Nations. He admits there was a time when he too was against the removal of the burned out trailer, but he has since changed his stance, saying that it is time to let it go.
“I think it is a good idea to move it,” he told the Two Row Times. “That way we can start to use the energy of racism against us, in a good way. We know that they (certain Caledonia residents) did it, but it’s time to put that behind us and move forward and not let racism keep us pinned to it.”
“We can start with removing the trailer and beautifying the land and letting nature, which is stronger, defeat the racism,” he says.