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Old 10-15-2006, 06:45 PM   #1
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One man arrested in Caledonia protest march
15/10/2006 12:31:15 PM

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One man has been arrested for crossing police lines at the site of a protest march by people upset with a months-old aboriginal occupation of property in Caledonia, Ont.


CTV.ca News Staff

Six Nations protesters stand a fence around the perimeter of the barricaded zone in Caledonia, Ont., near Hamilton, earlier this summer. (CP / Nathan Denette)

Dozens of provincial police officers are holding the marchers back from a housing development site claimed by the aboriginal group as being their own.

The plan was to keep both groups at least 200 metres apart. But the crowd, which had staged a rally earlier Sunday afternoon, pushed through that buffer zone towards the area of the aboriginal occupation.

While there have been a few standoffs between marchers and police, no violence has taken place.

Six Nations spokesperson Janie Jamieson said they were not concerned about the marchers, noting that her group was holding "a potluck" dinner on the occupied property.

"If anything happens, we're prepared for it," Jamieson said.

About 1,000 people began marching in Caledonia, Ont. to protest the months-old native occupation around 3 p.m. Sunday, despite being urged by the county mayor to end the demonstration there.

The rally began with speeches Speeches at about 1 p.m. Sunday. The demonstration, organized by Gary McHale of Richmond Hill, Ont., raised tensions within the community just south of Hamilton on edge.

While only a few minor skirmishes and tense moments were experienced during the rally without further incident, worry remained that the march could spark a confrontation with members of the Six Nations who have been occupying the property since February.

Haldimand County mayor Marie Trainer said earlier in the day that it was okay to have the rally, but pleaded with McHale to not march on the site.

"I'm asking him not to go on the ... site because we know there will be a confrontation," Trainer said. "Have the rally, I agree the land is owned by the province now, it belongs to all of us. No one should be on that site."

"But don't go down there. The reality is they are down there, so don't poke the bear."

The Ontario government purchased the contested property in June for $12.3 million, and has said it will hold onto the property while negotiations continue.

Provincial police are out in full force in case the potentially explosive situation becomes violent.

McHale had expected up to 20,000 people would attend the event organized by his Toronto-area 'Caledonia Wake-Up Call.' But only about 1,000 turned-up for the event.

In anticipation of the rally, sports events in the community were cancelled and the town's arena was closed.

Trainer also said she was prepared to declare a state of emergency if necessary.

Although McHale doesn't live in Caledonia, he said the issue affects all Canadians.

The fact that aboriginal protesters are being allowed to stay on the 40-hectare site -- while non-natives are kept away -- shows they are being treated preferentially, McHale said.

He had dismissed calls to hold the protest at Queens Park and rejected the notion that it's inappropriate for him, an outsider, to organize the protest.

"As soon as a non-native person wants to go to Caledonia to help out, all of a sudden it's an outsider," McHale told CTV's Desmond Brown on Saturday.

"Once again in our society there's a two-tiered system. It's okay for natives to unite to support each other."

McHale went ahead with the rally despite requests from both Ontario's Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Ramsay and Opposition Leader John Tory to call it off.

Meanwhile, aboriginal protesters planned a "potluck for peace" event at the site, to be held at the same time as the protest.

With files from The Canadian Press

http://news.sympatico.msn.ctv.ca/Top...howbyline=True
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