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Public Forum in Caladonia

A report from Tom Keefer (Autonomy and Solidarity) on the Community Friends public meeting in Caledonia on September 30th:

The event was a major success by any measure. Over 120 people from across the Haldimand tract and beyond attended the three-hour event which was addressed by indigenous rights lawyer Kate Kempton, Caledonia resident Jan Watson and United Steelworkers of America Local 1005 President Rolf Gerstenberger.

More than $500 was raised as people reached deep into their pockets to make a solidarity donation for the reclamation site by passing the hat at the meeting.

There was also an excellent media presence including numerous local media outlets, CHCH TV and two different crews from the CBC. The CBC ran live interviews with Community Friends spokesperson Jan Watson and had a number of reporters present. Several documentary filmmakers were also present as were radio stations CKRZ, CIUT, and CFRU. Video of the entire forum will be available on the autonomy and solidarity web site by Tuesday evening.

The message from the speakers and participants at the meeting was unanimous in expressing support for Six Nations land rights and calling for the Canadian government to fulfill its obligations to indigenous people. There were half a dozen members from the Caledonia Citizens Alliance present at the meeting but they did not publicly address the arguments raised in support of Six Nations. Those Caledonians that spoke from the floor of the meeting stressed the importance of peacefully and honorably resolving the issue of Six Nations land rights and spoke out against racism and bigotry. Numerous people from Six Nations also attended the meeting and gave their perspective on the Canadian government's history of broken treaties while also describing the racism and harassment that has been directed against them.

At the meeting union activists from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Service International Employees Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers, and the United Steelworkers of America also spoke out to support Six Nations. The meeting ended with a focus on discussing the ways in which non-native people could organize support for Six Nations within their own communities and workplaces.

A big thank you goes out to all the Community Friends members and supporters who made this event happen. Special thanks goes to all of those who did the work of going door-to-door in Caledonia to leaflet for the meeting in the weeks leading up to the event. We also want to thank the members of the Six Nations Confederacy who while reasserting their sovereignty over lands used as a parking lot for the Caledonia Community Fair handed out hundreds of our leaflets to the people going to the fair.