Aboriginal occupation in Caledonia, Ontario, a year old--or 200?

TORONTO -- Even as Canada's longest running aboriginal standoff closes in on its one-year anniversary, the Six Nations occupation of a former housing development site in a small southwestern Ontario town isn't going to end anytime soon, warns federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.

Negotiators working to resolve the 200-year-old land claim and end the year-long occupation are still working on peripheral parts of the claim, and have a long way to go before they can end the standoff that began one year ago Feb. 28.

They are dealing with intractable and challenging issues stemming from one of the oldest land claims in Canada, Prentice said.

"We'd be happy to be further toward the completion," he said in an interview."But it is a complicated matter. I've always known that it would be a challenging situation that would go on for some time."

The occupation that began when a small group of aboriginals blocked construction on the housing development in Caledonia, Ont., a short drive south of Hamilton, could have been far worse, Prentice added. Negotiations have brought relative stability and calm to the small town, he said.

Compared to the armed standoff between Mohawks and the Canadian army in Oka, Quebec, that killed a police officer 17 years ago, Prentice said Caledonia has been handled in a very responsible way...

Janie Jamieson, who speaks for the protesters, said the year-old occupation embodies too much for Six Nations to back down now.

"The prosperity Canada enjoys comes at the expense of the country's First Nations, putting aboriginal pride and dignity at stake," Jamieson said.

"Our people are still marginalized," she said."We're at the point where enough is enough. We've been backed into a corner for too long now."

Related Links

  • Land locked: Caledonia's broken peace and the search for answers
  • The myths of Caledonia [a lawyer's historical review]

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