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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Caledonia ripple

It has been in the back of my mind that by doing nothing to quell the dispute in Caledonia it would have ripple effects in other communities like a stone landing in a still pond. The failure of the government to act shows others that it is ok to imitate:

(Winnipeg Free Press - Subscription required) FED up with land claims that are taking decades to settle, a handful of Manitoba First Nations are planning a 24-hour blockade of rail lines in the province.

“It will create a huge money problem for the railway lines; it will also get the attention of the Americans that not all is well up in Canada,” said Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation Chief Terry Nelson.

His motion to stage a province-wide railway blockade on June 29 was passed by a majority at a recent Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs meeting at Dakota Tipi First Nation.

The only way they can get the federal government to stop dragging its feet on land claims is to hit them where it hurts — square in the economy, said Nelson.

“We could be blocking highways, but the average Canadian doesn’t have any power,” said the controversial chief of the First Nation, 92 kilometres south of Winnipeg. “All that we’d do is infuriate a few people who don’t have the power to resolve the issue.”

Roseau River will block two railway lines going into the United States. At least six other Manitoba First Nations have vowed to block railway lines at the same time, including Birdtail Sioux Band 351 km northwest of Winnipeg, Rolling River First Nation 245 km northwest of Winnipeg, Dakota Plains 30 km southwest of Portage la Prairie and Dakota Tipi 75 km west of Winnipeg and northern First Nations, which Nelson is waiting confirmation from. AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans was unavailable for comment yesterday. […]

For instance, the federal government didn’t come up with a $2.2-billion settlement for the victims of residential school abuse until after the national Assembly of First Nations threatened a $40-billion class action suit, Nelson said. The federal government won’t move on Six Nations claims in Caledonia or Roseau River’s in Manitoba until they’re forced to for economic reasons, he said.

The AMC railway blockade resolution aims to “force the Canadian government to establish a reasonable time frame for settlement of land claims” and to “send a message to the federal government and all Canadians that resource wealth of our lands are what supports every Canadian.”

In April, aboriginal protesters blockaded a vital Ontario rail corridor to show solidarity for those occupying a parcel of disputed land in Caledonia, Ont. until the rail company obtained a court injunction.

I think it is just beginning. (c/p)

Posted by Darcey on June 14, 2006 in Aboriginal Issues | Permalink


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So far, the silent majority for whatever reasons - and there are many - have chosen for the most part to remain silent rather than protest what is/has been happening. This is applicable to many elements affecting the social fabric of this country, not only in Caledonia.

Agreed - the inaction on the Caledonia issue is setting a dangerous precendent and this danger is being amplified geometrically by the week.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-06-14 8:39:41 AM

We can thank McWimpy for teaching people that the law doesn't have any effect and that thuggery pays.

Thank you Dalton the dim.

Can we bring out the riot police with the bean-bag shotguns now? Or the military with the .50's...

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-06-14 8:46:51 AM

Caledonia - Canadian quagmire!

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2006-06-14 9:02:27 AM

Pardon my ignorance, but is this a jurisdictional battle?

Native affairs ... federal.

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-06-14 9:17:58 AM


We're not dealing with native affairs. This is a law and order issue.

The feds negotiate race-based "rights" for "natives."

The provinces are responsible for policing and upholding the laws. In most provinces, that means local cops and provincial cops. Only in some provinces (like Alberta) have the provinces outsources policing to the RCMP. In Ontario, this means OPP.

If McWimpy wants to call in the army, he can ask Harper for assistance. He hasn't. Until he does, it's not Harper's problem.

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-06-14 9:25:46 AM

The issue in Caledonia was provincial, I'm not sure here but Terry is looking federally. His words should be taken with a grain of salt. As an example his residential school claim is a little off the mark.


Chief Ron Evans as most know was involved in blackmail and cohersion at his own reserve of Norway House and in my opinion has no credibility at all. There is a segment of the Manitoba population that want him to resign.

Posted by: Darcey | 2006-06-14 9:26:55 AM

It's a sad commentary, but when push comes to shove, citizens cannot always rely on protection from police or their government, even in a mature democracy. Despite law and order being the most basic responsibility of our varying levels of government (which together, confiscate half of our incomes), this service is no longer guaranteed.

As an example, we've seen during the L.A. Riots in the early 1990's, that police refused to respond to desperate pleas for help in dangerous areas. Anecdotally, acquaintances of Charleston Heston, who had previously ridiculed him for his pro-gun views, called him up, desperate to borrow one for their own protection.

We've also seen during Hurricane Katrina, that despite the chaos and massive destruction inflicted on New Orleans, police somehow found the time to go door-to-door, confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens who chose to stay and protect their homes and neighbors' homes from looters and ne'er-do-wells.

Now we're seeing this in peaceful-everyone-loves-us Canada, where the O.P.P. refuse to protect tax-paying, law-abiding Caledonian citizens.

It's despicable, and it will not only lead to more Native protests, but more violent and disruptive ones.

Posted by: Joel K. | 2006-06-14 9:33:45 AM


Thanks for the clarification.

Let's see if I understand the issues correctly.

It started as a land dispute, which the natives could get recourse through federal courts on, being as how their primary relationship is with the crown.

I'm assuming this has been dragged through the courts without a satisfactory resolution.

So, a small group including a casino developer figured that since there were no wagons handy, they'd burn up a railway bridge to draw attention to their plight.

Then, the provincial jurisdiction of law and order kicked in. But the Ontario premier, sensitive to what has happened in past confrontations, has let the violence continue without moving in and arresting the perps.

Is that about right?

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-06-14 9:34:08 AM

The railways are private land and they have their own private CN and CP Police forces.

Striking at the economic level can cut both ways.

What do you suppose would happen if the Federal government said, "We aren't going to cut any cheques of any kind for you people, that includes welfare and Treaty cheques, until you get your own people to abide by the law.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-06-14 9:43:07 AM

It was alleged not too long ago that Mike Harris (former Premier of Ontario) was quoted to have stated to the OPP during a similar crises. (not verbatim) "Get those fucking Indians out that park now!"

One Indian, Dudley George wound up getting shot, but the event quickly was over.

To date, I think the Indians are still getting their 10 billion a year and doing nothing much with it and Mike Harris is playing golf.

We need Mike Harris or someone like him NOW!!

When you pay a group people 10 Billion a year for NOTHING .. the least they can do is shut up and don't make trouble for their benefactors.

Posted by: j | 2006-06-14 9:44:36 AM

The issue in terms of policeing is both federal and Provincial. On Provincial turf, it is Provincial. But as soon as it gets up to the reservations, the issue becomes muddied, as reservations are federal jurisdiction.

Posted by: Lady | 2006-06-14 10:53:10 AM


Yup. Where we sit now though is McWimpy's refusal to do what needs to be done and the OPP's refusal to stick their own neck out (why would the OPP take any action when one of their own was jailed for doing so the last time?)

McWimpy just went through the motions of demonizing Harris for his tougher stand so is now totally fearful of doing the same thing.

George was a thug who died as a thug. There are more thugs. If more get killed while engaging in criminal activity, I won't lose any sleep over it. A criminal is a criminal - regardless of race. If the road block/thuggery/terrorism was perpetrated by a bunch of white supremacists or even Islamists, the barricades would have been knocked down by the swat team in about 10 seconds. Why are natives not subject to the laws of Canada?

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-06-14 10:56:27 AM


Because they're special?


What do you think of the idea of the federal government sending treaty obligation cheques to individual registered members of reserves?

Would that take away the corrupting influences of the chiefs?


Should payments come from provincial or federal governments, considering treaties were signed between each individual nation and the crown?

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-06-14 11:02:15 AM

Right on "j". Everybody knows the unfortunate case and name of Dudley George but does anybody remember the name of the police officer shot in another one of their events? Again , some are more equal than others before and under the laws of this country. It's a high price we're paying for events which happened as this nation evolved to become the Country Canada.Nobody owes anyone a living at this stage in our history. Throwing money at any group does no favour to anyone. There is no evidence it's appreciated and much evidence it's fostering hatred and moral decay.

Posted by: Liz Jackson | 2006-06-14 11:03:25 AM


This is not money being throw at a group to appease them.

It is a result of treaties signed between the Indian nations and the crown.

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-06-14 11:21:46 AM

SYF: Whatever, it's a bad scene and a pox on all concerned. It's time to re-examine these antiquated pacts for the benefit of all concerned, what's going on now is a disgrace in a civilized society. It's no way to settle any dispute of any sort. We have laws and they should apply equally to all and be applied and obeyed, anarchy is not an option.

Posted by: Liz Jackson | 2006-06-14 12:31:00 PM

The law of the jungle is supposed to apply in Banana Republics such as Ontario, that's the whole idea. Many Canadians are fed up with Law.

Posted by: Philanthropist | 2006-06-14 1:01:51 PM

Just a question: how are they going to blockade a train? It's big, heavy and can move really slowly (pushing everything out of the way with it's cowcatcher) - if you are stupid enough to get in front of one, you get what you deserve.

Also, I wonder if the railroads can file a lawsuit for economic damages?

Posted by: MSYB | 2006-06-14 1:14:23 PM


So, how many will stand in front of a train going 60km/hour, and expect it to stop on a dime? As soon as one person becomes train pizza, the whole thing will be over.

And yes, there may be a case but there is no equity worth the while.

Posted by: Lady | 2006-06-14 2:30:13 PM

Seems to me a lot of the treaties stated that the gov't would supply blankets and the like...maybe medicine. I don't recall (though I haven't read them) any treaties that offered billions of dollars in perpetuity.

Posted by: MarkAlta | 2006-06-14 4:50:00 PM


No one really worries about deals that outlive them. That is why the longest warranties are for a lifetime, or as in roof tiles, about 40 years. Those is position to replace their own roof are most likely to have sold it before the roof wears out, or died whichever comes first. Or the warranty document is lost and/or the company goes out of business. And none of the treaties could have been written in consideration of any of the current circumstances which were unimagineable, like the railroad from coast to coast. Especially when they may have been made when life expectancies were about 40 years at best.

Posted by: Lady | 2006-06-14 5:50:14 PM

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