McHale protest opens old wounds at Kanohstaton

KANONHSTATON – Sunday afternoon, June 8th, at about 2:19pm, well-known anti-native rights activist Gary McHale, and a group of his followers, came to the former Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia to continue his agenda of keeping the wounds of the 2006 land reclamation open. 

Police were called, but in the end, the sole land protector left on the land, 53-year-old Kawaowene (English name John Garlow), known to friends as John John, was roughed up and arrested by the OPP while McHale and his crew watched on and filmed the events for their YouTube channel.

Six Nations believes the former DCE was reclaimed in a 2006 stand-off, which was internationally covered by all the major media outlets throughout Turtle Island and beyond.

In 2007, to put an end to the roadblocks and potential violence, Ontario purchased the land (which is under a registered land claim), from developers, John and Don Henning for $15.8 million. The Hennings are now in court defending themselves against Ontario which wants them to pay tax on their payoff money.

With the cooperation of Ontario, Six Nations has held a continuous presence on the land ever since. This situation is at the root of Mr. McHale and his followers’ many antagonistic publicity stunts over the years following, never really letting the situation between the neighbouring communities of Caledonia and Six Nations heal.

Sunday afternoon Garlow was alone in the house located on the property – which has been renamed by Kanonhstaton by Six Nations, a Mohawk word meaning “the protected place” – when McHale and a group of around six of his followers, some carrying video cameras, marched past the main gate to the property right up to the front of the house.

As they approached the house, Garlow went out to stop their progress and ordered them off of Six Nations land.

He opened his arms as to make a human fence and told McHale not to pass. At this point there were no visible OPP officers in the area.

“He kept coming towards me and I thought he might do something,” said Garlow. “I put my arms out wide and told him that he was not welcome.”

McHale would not stop and tried to go around Garlow who followed him, staying between himself and the house, which he feared the group was about to try and take over.

“I was alone here, I had to do something,” said Garlow.

More of McHale’s followers began to arrive from the Braemar neighbourhood adjacent to Kanonhstaton, passing though what was called the “O-town” entrance to the lands.

McHale would not stop coming and he and Garlow’s bodies collided. Garlow shoved McHale off of him and McHale responded by calling 911 saying he was conducting a “citizen’s arrest”. OPP arrived soon after. They talked to McHale, but rather than arrest him for instigation, they came to Garlow and placed him under arrest for “assault”.

Garlow offered token resistance to police while trying to explain to them what he was doing and, more importantly, why.

“As a Haudenosaunee man I am obligated to protect my land and my people,” said Garlow.

A very brief scuffle ensued and Garlow was taken to the ground by OPP officers who, according to witness Norm Thomas, mashed Garlow’s face into the gravel while subduing him with handcuffs.

Garlow had his hands cuffed behind his back and was carried away by police officers with his face about two feet from the roadway, causing him shoulder and arm damage. He also had gravel wounds to his hands.

Garlow’s token resistance continued at the police station when he decided not to speak English any more and reverted to his Cayuga tongue, refusing to answer to the name John.

“I would not sign my slave name,” said Garlow. “Only one policeman at least attempted to call me by my right name so I thanked him for the respect he had shown me and would only speak English to him.”

He would not sign the release forms except with an “X”, which the OPP accepted, and Garlow was released in his own recognizance under a promise to appear.

“There were 2 cruisers here when I got here at about quarter to three,” says Norm Thomas, a friend of Garlow’s and fellow land protector. “I said to take it easy on him, but they kept going.”

Except for Thomas Garkow was alone for most of it, and was hoping to slow the process down until more people came. But because the incident happened so quickly, he did not have time to text for help before he felt he had to respond. Thomas did send some text messages for help at Kanonhstaton, but by that time, Garlow was arrested and McHale’s people had left.

“To a warrior, jail is something that a warrior just accepts,” says Garlow. “They can detain your body but not who we really are. As a warrior, jail is just another part of the universe. It’s not a good place to be, but don’t be afraid of it. If you are not afraid of death why are you afraid of jail?” he reasons.

“Look at me. I’m all marked up, I got a sore arm, a sore shoulder, but I was here by myself,” he told TRT. ”If the people are not going to start coming here to protect this land, I’m not going to be staying here anymore. I’ll go with another nation and do what I have to do, or just retire from it all. Something needs to change. I’m hoping that all people, both Native and non-Native will change this so me or my people don’t have to be terrorized again.”

Garlow is scheduled to appear in Cayuga Court House July 22nd, at 2 pm.

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  1. John, if it’s of any help, my thoughts are with you. I note the last paragraph where you are quoted and know exactly how it is you feel. I can see by those words that your mind is a good mind. Your words give me reason to feel pride but I also feel a deep sadness that you were alone. What the people of Six Nations will do about this, I can’t know but I truly hope they will rise up in peaceful support of you.
    Peace to you Brother.

  2. Kawaowene I honor your comittment to the land and people! I’m sorry you stood alone; but your brave acts were witnessed by ALL life around you and our Creator who sees and hears your cries for justice. Nya:weh! Melissa Jacobs

  3. A lot of politicians convince their members that the “First Nations” have special treatment, But special treatment doesn’t always mean Better treatment, It may mean a secret war against our Nationalities and our values of Equality, The grip of power for the politicians rely on the fact that their constituents are uneducated enough to become blind to the fact that they Are voting for Slaveholders, demanding our independent nations bend to their will (canadas constitution). In a free world where we choose our Nationalities, how does canada justify claiming me and millions of other “first nations” as their property. If we are not canadas Property/slaves, why won’t they let us go?

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