Caledonia First Nations Defend Grand River Territory 2006-2011.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version
Timing
Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
The actions of the campaign were concentrated in 2006-2010, although the court hearings prolonged until June 2011.
28 February
2006
to
8 July
2011
Location and Goals
Country: 
Canada
Location City/State/Province: 
Caledonia, Ontario
Location Description: 
Grand River reserve, Highway 6 as well as Argyle Street. 15km East of Brantford, Ontario.
Goals: 
The Six Nations of Grand River aimed to regain the rights to their land which was un-righfully sold by the Canadian government to the developers of Douglas Creek Estates.
 

During the 18th Century the Iroquois aided the British government to defend what is now known as Canadian territory from the Americans. As an expression of gratitude to the Iroquois, the British gifted to them six miles along both sides of Grand River as a place to never be disturbed; as spiritual land for the people to forever enjoy.

Since then, the Canadian government has been selling portions of the Six Nations of Grand River reserve for commercial use. The Canadian government did not inform the people of the Six Nations of Grand River of these transactions, nor share the profits. After hearing that developers planned to begin construction of a housing development, Douglas Creek Estates, the people of the reserve decided to take action by informing the developers that this land was not the Government’s to sell.

The Developers of Douglas Creek Estates had already constructed a project office on the site and the construction was set to momentarily begin. On 28 February 2006, residents of the Six Nations of Grand River erected tents on the construction site to represent their possession of the land in question. Developers demanded in writing that protesters leave by the 3rd of March 2006. The residents remained in the tents. Dawn Smith, a resident of the Six Nations of Grand River burned the written demand.

On 20 April 2006 the Ontario Provincial Police arrested twenty-one people for failure to remove themselves from the land. At this time, protesters in support of the Six Nations of Grand River ignited tires across Highway 6 and Argyle Street to block traffic. Additionally, protesters trespassed into the developer's office and burned all of their documents.

Four days later, the residents of Caledonia demonstrated in support of the developers. Some non-indigenous Caledonia residents were planning to organize their own defense team. The Canadian government advised against this. By early May, both the Premier of Ontario and the Indian Affairs Minister were working with the Caledonian and Grand River residents attempting to resolve the conflict.

Allies of the Six Nations of Grand River maintained the blockades of Highway 6 and Argyle Street. Several traffic accidents had occurred on the back road detours. After a traffic collision on the 16May 2006, the protesters allowed one lane of traffic to pass through on Argyle Street. The Ontario Provincial Police removed the road blockades entirely on 22 May 2006. The protesters remained on Argyle Street for one full day, blockading traffic with their bodies instead of the tires. Hazel Hill, a resident of the Six Nations of Grand River became a spokesperson for the ongoing protest.

The residents of the Six Nations of Grand River filed a class-action lawsuit against the Ontario Provincial Police to the Supreme Court of Canada. On 20 June 2010, the Residents of the Six Nations of Grand River began excavating the construction site for historical spiritual artifacts. Through the month of August, the courts recommended that negotiations continue until the protesters agreed to leave the construction site. On 16 January 2007, the residents performing the excavation revealed an ancient burial ground on the proposed housing site.

On 8 July 2011, the Canadian Supreme Court issued a verdict on the case. The Judge Chris Bentley awarded the victims of the Six Nations of Grand River $20,000,000 and affirmed their rights to the land.

Research Notes
Influences: 

not known

Sources: 
Hedican, E. 2013. Ipperwash. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

John Findlay, F. 2013. Caledonia Class Action - Caledonia, Ontario, Canada. [online] Available at: http://www.caledoniaclassaction.com [Accessed: 2 Nov 2013].

Ontario.ca. 2013. Six Nations of the Grand River. [online] Available at: http://www.ontario.ca/government/six-nations-grand-river [Accessed: 2 Nov 2013].

Six Miles Deep Land Rights of the Six Nations of Grand River. 2013. [e-book] Ohsweken, Ontario: Six Nations Council. pp. 1-15. Available through: Six Nations http://www.sixnations.ca/SixMilesDeep-Booklet.pdf [Accessed: 2 November 2013].

Six Miles Deep. 2009. [DVD] Canada: Sara Roque.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Anna Kovacs, 24/11/2013