The Caledonia Protest

A friend of mine in Simcoe was out of power for part of the long weekend due to the near-riot in Caledonia. Thankfully, her power has finally been restored and all is well.
I hesitated to post on this, as I am sure there will plenty of inflammatory comments on both side. Note to all: keep it clean and racial slur free or kiss all your comments on the topic goodbye.
If I have said it once, I have said it many times. The reserve system should never have been invented. Native peoples should have been integrated properly with the rest of Canadian society. Indian culture would have survived easily. One only has to look at Little Italy, Chinatown, Dutch Ghettos or any other ethnic grouping to know this would have been true.
But, hindsight is 20-20, and there is no going back now. We are stuck with an unworkable system that does not facilitate feelings of goodwill. It also does not foster a sense of communal or societal benefit. There is no common good.
I have no solution to the current problems in Caledonia. If the government were to call in the army, we would have another Oka on our hands. If the situation continues as is, the construction company will probably go bankrupt and the people who have already purchased the homes that were to be built on the site will be stuck. Money is not going to solve it either.


Guardsman said...

A town and it’s citizen’s held hostage by a group of people for months.
Railway bridges burned, property damage rampant, public roads dug-up and numerous actors in this spectacle running around in military style camaflogue uniforms calling themselves warriors.
Afghanistan right? Nope, Caledonia Ontario, Canada, home of the strong and free and where select groups of demonstrators can and have done just about anything to push their cause with nary a whimper from the people elected to govern this country or the police forces charged with the responsibility to arrest law-breakers.
If the situtation were reverse and it was Caledonia residents manning the roadblock, how long do you suppose before the headknoking would begin? I suspect within days.
Only in Canada you say, thank goodness.

Loki said...

The last terrorists that sabotaged hydro towers are still in jail, anyone remember when they were convicted? I know it was many many years ago.
This time terrorism is called vandalism, double standard or what?

Anonymous said...

There is a solution and that is to abolish the reserve system immediately. Maybe offer a one time lump sum payment or deed the land to individuals but the reserve system has to go. It just feeds the cycle of poverty that exists on many reserves.

Ruth said...

The only problem I see with an immediate abolition (sp?) of the reserve system is that many of the people who live there could end up on welfare. Cartainly, some will not, but given the state of things, I doubt they would be in the majority.
Perhaps there could be a phasing out of the reserve system instead. I am not sure of what form this sort of plan might take. It could look something like:
1. Incentives for Indians to leave the reserve
2. Loss of tax exemption status on reserves.
3. Phased in closure of reserves, as more people start to leave.
4. Final abolition of all reserves.
5. Slowly cut back on incentives from step 1
6. Total integration

That's just a preliminary idea. I am sure there could be other plans.

Hannah said...

That is a very politically charged comment.

Let's not forget what is actually happening in Caledonia. The native reserve leased the land to the government. Now the government claims it was not a lease, but that they bought the land.

Can you imagine if you rented your home and after a number of years, the tenant said that they felt they'd paid enough rent and that they now own the property and demanded you turn over the title? That's a run-on sentance, but I'd imagine you'd be pretty thoroughly ticked.

The land was not conquered through war. It belonged to someone else. An agreement was made many years ago to share the land. What you are suggesting would very likely lead to a civil war.

Your analogy of Chinatown and Little Italy doesn't work. That is like comparing apples and oranges. The native people were already here when the Europeans arrived.

Ruth said...

There was an anonymous comment that seems to have been deleted by the original poster. I am tempted to put it back in for continuity's sake... not that I agreed with its content. I didn't. Please keep the racial rhetoric to a minimum folks.

But back to the discussion.
I agree that Chinatown and Little Italy are not great comparisons. They are only examples how things COULD have developed IF the reserve system had never been developed. As of this moment, a similar community will probably never develop... or at least, if it does, it won't happen for a very long time.
Yes, it is very politically charged situation. In fact, I think I would say that there is almost no chance for a positive solution.
"The native reserve leased the land to the government." That depends on what version of history you read. There are two version out there: one says the native people never gave up their claim on the land, the other says they did give up their claim and that land came under ownership of the government when they put the highway in. Who is right, sadly, is a matter of perspective... another reason the reserve system should never have happened. Then we wouldn't even be having this problem.
But, hindsight is 20-20.
Also, there is the fact that when a subdivision is developed, there is a certain period of time allotted during which people can file their complaints. To the best of my knowlegde, a time to complain about new developments is a legal requirement. Our area is a good example. There's a big sign down the road indicating that a new subdivision is going to be put up, and complaints can be lodged with Government Department whatever. One has to ask the question: why were no complaints lodged at all (and this is on record) until AFTER the time had expired and land development began?
In my opinion, the most important part of this whole situation isthe number of people who are being affected. People living in Caledonia can't get to work due to the blockade. Businesses are going under. Average Joe's are losing their livelihood. People have bought houses that they can't move into because they don't exist yet and may never exist. Imagine having to pay interest on a mortgage for which you have nothing to show.

I have no real solution to this problem, just a lot of observations.

Hannah said...

My only observation would be that if you draw the culture-pocket analogy, then it would be we who would have the culture pockets, as we are the newer culture to the land.

British or French culture may have thrived in pockets in the midst of the larger, dominant North American Native cultures.

After all, we were the latecomers to this continent.

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Yes, and those Hutterites, Amish, and Hassidic Jewish people should be assimilated into mainstream society too. Just look at how terrible the impact has been on these people in having little enclaves where they can live their lives according to their own customs, traditions, languages and religions.

Those Hutterites, Hassidics and Amish should be forced to integrate into Canadian society! It's for their own damn good.
You do understand irony I hope.

Ruth said...

Other post on same topic

Found where those other comments were coming from.
There is a huge discussion going on under my other post on the Caledonia protests. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they were showing up in my email but not here. There are about 25 comments or so. I may close that discussion and redirect it here.

As far as cultural pockets go, the intent was to point out where they have been successful AND also integrated into society. Chinatown, Little Italy, the Amish and so on are examples of distinct cultural pockets within Canadian society that also have a sense of participation with Canada. The reserve system is not that. There is no sense of common good.

I've got a link lying around here somewhere to an article written by a fellow blogger who happens to be Native. He points out a lot of the very serious problems within the reserve system. I should dig it up, as it is very relevant to the current topic.

Ruth said...

Here it is.... well, that's the link to my blog entry anyway. I don't say much the original article is at Dust My Broom. It's a pretty stark and harsh article, but this is coming from someone who has lived it and who has a lot to say on the problems faced by Indian Reserves and the people who live there.

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