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Six Nations demonstrators return to site of land dispute after clash, arrests

Protesters have set up a blockade on Argyle Street in Caledonia. Photo courtesy CHCH

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

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

OPP allege 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 development had previously been approved by the Six Nations of the Grand River elected council, however, the demonstrators – who are members of the hereditary council – say they do not recognize the authority of the elected band council.

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 the premier’s ire on Thursday, and 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,” Doug Ford said during a news conference.

He called the incident “uncalled for,” “disturbing” and “unacceptable.”

Provincial police say the Highway 6 Caledonia Bypass remains closed in both directions between Greens Road and Haldimand 4th Line.