Demonstrators occupying a residential development just outside Caledonia have written an open letter to their community and are calling for federal ministers to meet with them at the site.
The group moved into McKenzie Meadows roughly three weeks ago, renaming it “1492 Land Back Lane” and creating a Facebook page by the same title where they’ve been sharing updates.
They’ve set up barricades across area roads and a rail line and returned to the development following a clash with OPP on August 5 where police say officers were hit by rocks and they responded with “non-lethal force,” including firing a rubber bullet.
OPP say fewer than 10 people were arrested.
In their letter, the demonstrators say police “brought violence into our community,” before they were “walked out of our territory.”
The message, dated August 7, provides a timeline of the various consultations the group says developers undertook before they broke ground, detailing multiple meetings dating back to 2013.
A statement from the Six Nations elected council says the project was allowed to proceed after the band was “accommodated” with 42.3 acres and $325,000 which will be used for future land purposes.
The letter from demonstrators, however, suggests a low turnout during the consultations means they “do not reflect any meaningful community engagement.”
It also addresses the stress the land claim may have caused as well as “old hurts and mistrust” among community members, before calling on them to support each other and to join them at the site.
“Divided there is nothing we can do to stop the theft of our lands,” it reads.
“We don’t pretend to know what a collective voice of 20,000+ people from Six Nations will look like. What we do know is that our connection to the land is the thread that binds us all.”
On Friday an Ontario Superior Court judge issued two orders directing the demonstrators to tear down their tents and remove any barriers on local roads.
Haldimand County OPP spokesperson Const. Rod LeClair, said Monday that he did not have any updates on when the court injunction will be delivered, adding officers will remain in the area in the meantime.
“We are maintaining our presence in the area for the safety of the public, the demonstrators and the police as this is paramount and that is our key role,” said LeClair.
The demonstrators referenced the injunctions in their letter too, saying they “only serve as a colonial mechanism to dispossess us of our lands and resources, which fundamentally violates our rights as sovereign Indigenous people.”
A legal fund has also been organized for the demonstrators, who are asking supporters to contact federal officials, including Marc Miller, Minster of Indigenous Service and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with a deadline set for Friday.