CALEDONIA — Caledonia area residents are expressing relief on social media after learning that the barricades blocking the Highway Six bypass will be removed by the end of the week.
Skyler Williams, a spokesperson for the land rights demonstration in Caledonia known as Land Back Lane, said the group agreed it was time to re-open the road to slow down detour times for area residents heading to work or medical appointments.
The roadblock on Argyle Street between Braemar Ave. and Sixth Line will remain but it will be moved back slightly to allow access to the parking lot at Caledonia Baptist Church, said Williams.
Last July, a small number of Six Nations people stopped construction of a former housing development site in Caledonia known as McKenzie Meadows, saying the property sits on unceded Six Nations land.
Since then, a number of supporters have been arrested for defying a court injunction barring anyone from setting foot on the former construction site. Three months ago, supporters of Land Back Lane shut down the bypass and Argyle Street in response to those arrests, said Williams.
He said police used rubber bullets on the protesters at Hwy. 6 and Sixth Line on Oct. 22 and in response, roads were shut down for the safety of Land Back Lane supporters.
“One guy was shot in the back of the leg and another guy had taser darts in his back but was able to pull away,” said Williams. “The barricades went up as a means to keep our people safe. It was a crazy time to see those rubber bullets flying by and for me, that was the second time I’ve been shot at. It’s high time that we find some peaceful resolution. I think folks on both sides (Six Nations and Caledonia) are quite sick of this going on.”
Williams and a number of other land defenders have been meeting with Six Nations Elected Council reps and members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council over Zoom recently to create a unified front before approaching the federal government for a resolution to Six Nations’ long-standing land rights issues.
“It really doesn’t matter what side of the fence you sit on – everybody (on Six Nations) knows that this is our land that our ancestors were screwed out of.”
In the meantime, Williams said the Argyle Street closure will remain in place until the federal government puts a moratorium on all development on disputed Six Nations land along the Grand River.
“We’ve never been interested in seeing these barricades up,” said Williams. “This isn’t about road back – this is about land back.”
Yesterday marked six months since the Land Back Lane protest began.