Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us
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It officially began on February 28, 2006, when a handful of protesters from the nearby Six Nations reserve walked onto Douglas Creek Estates, then a residential subdivision under construction, and blocked workers from entering. Over the course of the spring and summer of that first year, the criminal actions of the occupiers included throwing a vehicle over an overpass, the burning down of a hydro transformer which caused a three-day blackout, the torching of a bridge and the hijacking of a police vehicle. During the very worst period, ordinary residents living near the site had to pass through native barricades, show native-issued "passports", and were occasionally threatened with body searches and routinely subjected to threats. Much of this lawless conduct occurred under the noses of the Ontario Provincial Police, who, often against their own best instincts, stood by and watched: They too had been intimidated. Arrests, where they were made, weren't made contemporaneously, but weeks or monthlater. The result was to embolden the occupiers and render non-native citizens vulnerable and afraid. Eighteen months after the occupation began, a home builder named Sam Gualtieri, working on the house he was giving his daughter as a wedding present, was attacked by protesters and beaten so badly he will never fully recover from his injuries. The occupation is now in its fifth year. Throughout, Christie Blatchford has been observing, interviewing, and investigating with the tenacity that has made her both the doyen of Canadian crime reporters and a social commentator beloved for her uncompromising sense of right and wrong.
In Helpless she tells the full story for the first time - a story that no part of the press or media in Canada has been prepared to tackle with the unflinching objectivity that Christie Blatchford displays on every page. This is a book whose many revelations, never before reported, will shock and appall. But the last word should go to the author:
"This book is not about aboriginal land claims. The book is not about the wholesale removal of seven generations of indigenous youngsters from their reserves and families - this was by dint of federal government policy - or the abuse dished out to many of them at the residential schools into which they were arbitrarily placed or the devastating effects that haunt so many today. This book is not about the dubious merits of the reserve system which may better serve those who wish to see native people fail than those who want desperately for them to succeed. I do not in any way make light of these issues, and they are one way or another in the background of everything that occurred in Caledonia.
"What Helpless is about is the failure of government to govern and to protect all its citizens equally."
began]. We were like landowners,” she says, making fun of herself in a Bavarian accent that remains thick, “because we come from Europe—who has that? So we walked our own land, we looked at every shrub, we found an old foundation from the first settlers, Irish people. So we were absolutely in love with our property.” And every time they had a little extra, they bought and planted a tree. On the morning of April 20, they were still in bed when they heard police cruisers speeding by on the Sixth
At the liaison table three days later, Jason Clark reported the OPP was “happy with community support against march,” said they estimated “two hundred people involved were from Caledonia,” and noted that AnneMarie VanSickle “was very vocal throughout … I was told she wasn’t asked to join the advisory group because the province learned she was the resident who taped Jane Stewart and forwarded the info to McHale for the website.” (Actually, it wasn’t VanSickle who taped Stewart, McHale says, but
threat of native occupiers in the park that night, and of the former Conservative government, with Mr. Justice Sidney Linden, the commissioner of the inquiry, finding that former premier Mike Harris had indeed said that he “wanted the fucking Indians out of the park.” With that incendiary remark, Linden said, Harris had “created the risk of placing political pressure on the police,” though he nonetheless found that the former premier “did not inappropriately direct” the OPP. Mentioned in
Cayuga, near the village of Binbrook, where the McHales had in fact been living for almost two years at the time and where both of them now had friends and ordinary business dealings. Most outrageously, when Clyde Powless’s assault charge came before the courts in the fall of 2008, he had several letters of reference. One, from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, simply confirmed that Powless and Porter “were delegated the responsibilities of maintaining peace and order on the site of Douglas Creek
this time by BlackBerry; Hill and the natives were still issuing ultimatums to the OPP; the OPP was still marching to the natives’ drum. Debbie Thompson went out on the Saturday night to buy a lottery ticket. “I wasn’t stopped by the protesters,” she says, “but there were so many there I couldn’t get through. “So I’m on top of the bridge and I can see the OPP coming in, and I can hear, obviously, these protesters: ‘Gonna kill them gonna kill them gonna kill them.’ That’s a constant, what they’re