Six Nations demonstrators return to site of land dispute, arrests

Aug 7, 2020

Indigenous demonstrators have returned to the site of a housing development at the center of a land dispute in southern Ontario, the day after nine people were arrested following a violent clash with police.

Provincial police said they went to the McKenzie Meadows development on the outskirts of Caledonia, Ont., on Wednesday to enforce a court injunction ordering demonstrators off the land.

OPP alleged some of the occupiers threw "large rocks" at officers, and officers responded by firing a single round from a weapon that shoots rubber bullets. They say nine people were arrested and later released.

Protesters have dubbed the site "1492 Land Back Lane" and began occupying it more than two weeks ago, arguing the development violates the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee people.

The Haudenosaunee - a group that includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora First Nations - are also known as the Iroquois or the Six Nations, and were involved in a similar land dispute in 2006.  

The occupation drew Ontario Premier Doug Ford's ire on Thursday. While he said he could not and would not direct the police, he made his position clear.

"You just can't go in and take over people's future homes. It's wrong," Ford said during a news conference.

He called the incident "uncalled for," "disturbing" and "unacceptable."

Friday morning, OPP said Highway 6 was closed between Fourth Line and Greens Road and  Argyle Street was closed between Highway 6 and Braemar Avenue due to the demonstration. Motorist were advised to use an alternative route.