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An Unlikely Canadian Hero’s Tale of Non-Violent Defiance

Many conservatives and libertarians turn up their noses at non-violent civil disobedience. They should talk to Gary McHale.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

November 5, 2013 - 10:00 am


Folks from the U.S., Israel, and European countries have asked me if what they’ve heard about Caledonia can possibly be true:

“How could such things go on in Canada, of all places, in the 21st century?”

Sadly, it’s all true, and possibly worse than they know…

On February 28, 2006, a group of Native protestors from the Six Nations occupied the Douglas Creek Estates housing development in the small community of Caledonia, Ontario. Worried about the bad press they could receive if they forcibly removed and charged the illegal protestors—who would be joined, over the next weeks and months, by armed Mohawk Warriors, union organizers, pro-Palestinian activists, and drug- and people-smugglers from across the continent—the police failed to act on several court orders to remove them.

By the time they did make their move two months later, the occupiers’ numbers and resolve had increased to such an extent that they were able to fight off the police, in the process injuring three officers. From that point on, chaos came to Caledonia, with the highway dug up, hydro towers cut down, fires set on private property, a bridge burnt down, the power station firebombed, objects hurled onto a road from an overpass, numerous death threats issued, police officers assaulted and held hostage, and residents and reporters, including an elderly white couple and an 86-year-old war veteran, harassed, swarmed, and beaten up (…)

The [Ontario provincial] McGuinty government tried to buy peace by purchasing Douglas Creek Estates and authorizing the violent protestors to live there for free (at taxpayers’ expense), but the mayhem merely escalated as protestors fought amongst themselves and with the community.

One homeowner was attacked by an Indian and left permanently brain damaged.

The Indian received only two years in prison. Because he’s an Indian.

Gary McHale and other counterprotesters were arrested for… carrying Canadian flags while walking on a public road.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Coming soon to an American city near you...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
What you're seeing is the continuation, hardening and institutionalization of the concept of guilt and innocence, morality, nobility and justice sieved through one's identity in a hierarchy of non-white, gay and female - identity-based political correctness carried to the point of madness.

What one actually does is of less account than what one was the day you were born. It's a strange culture where the majority has more or less decided to pillory and discriminate against themselves based on the idea it is wrong to pillory and discriminate based on identity.

The bottom line is that in the long run no culture can survive idiocy written right into culture, custom and practice, and law itself.

Our artists, law enforcement officials, and politicians often sound like a reverse Bizarro KKK with a death-wish.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I actually have to believe that Canadian police have learned something from Caledonia. I was truly stunned that when natives recently protested shale fracking in New Brunswick, the Mounties made arrests and laid charges. That protest has gone in a whole different direction, because the police showed just a bit of backbone. Impressive.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Why are not all who are born and reared in Canada called "natives?" Ethnic background is not the only standard for calling people natives. Is the word "native" the only way to describe Indians?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great piece, Kathy, thanks very much.

But I believe many Americans will probably choose to eat Fritos by the bag and watch Miley Cyrus gyrate her skinny a$$ all over the place than read about McHale.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sadly you are probably correct. Most Americans don't realize that Canada is even a sovereign nation...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coming soon to an American city near you...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Likely Detroit.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope. Dearborne Michigan.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
What you're seeing is the continuation, hardening and institutionalization of the concept of guilt and innocence, morality, nobility and justice sieved through one's identity in a hierarchy of non-white, gay and female - identity-based political correctness carried to the point of madness.

What one actually does is of less account than what one was the day you were born. It's a strange culture where the majority has more or less decided to pillory and discriminate against themselves based on the idea it is wrong to pillory and discriminate based on identity.

The bottom line is that in the long run no culture can survive idiocy written right into culture, custom and practice, and law itself.

Our artists, law enforcement officials, and politicians often sound like a reverse Bizarro KKK with a death-wish.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the fascinating aspects of this, from my point of view, is the fact that Canadians, especially in the past, used to contrast their handling of Indians with the treatment the United States meted out to their counterparts, down in the States. The Canadians usually viewed the contrast favorably, because they didn't mistreat the Indians up North, and the descendants of those Natives were as a result not nearly as pissed-off about their treatment as ours are.

Except of course nothing like Caledonia has happened here in the States, at least not in my hearing, and certainly nothing that ran for as long as what's happened up North. I'm beginning to think that the Canadian government being as reasonable with the tribes as it was didn't do them any good.

Now I'm not condoning racial cleansing or anything. U.S. Policy towards our Indians down here wasn't overtly exterminationist, but they did just ignore what was being done by settlers or local militias a lot, with a wink and a nudge here and there. After the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, they typically sided with the whites and moved the Indians to a reservation, where they'd be fed spoiled army rations and punished if they left to return to where they used to live. All of this was "legal" but at best very questionable in terms of ethics. Generally it was downright dishonest.

What I'm wondering about is why the Indians in Canada acted the way they did. The only thing I can come up with is that the government up there is so damn polite, and apologetic for its past, that it feels it has to allow this to occur, to make up for the wrongdoings of history. Of course this only encourages the individuals to do more, and be more aggressive.

I will suggest one further thing. I gather that the Caledonia homeowners weren't very well-off, and that now there's essentially no one being injured any more, because the provincial government bought the homes. The argument now is between the yahoos who claim to be tribal people, and various activists who want to force the cops to do their jobs by arresting these people. One commenter noticed that the Mounties came and charged protesters who were attacking shale fracking in New Brunswick. There's a significant difference, beyond the fact that the one happened after the other. There was little government revenue involved at Caledonia, other than the money they spent trying to buy off the protestors. In New Brunswick, there's a *LOT* of cash involved, and of course the government isn't going to tolerate someone trying to interrupt the flow of $$$ into their own pockets. It pays their salaries.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to live in Humboldt COunty, California, and we all kew about, and shook our heads at, the annual Fourth of July "celebration" up on the Hoopa Nation land, where the Klamath and Trinity Rivers meet. Prepareations typically began the week beforre, and included laying in the stores one would need to get through it.. truckloads of fireworks, definitely Certified Unsafe and Insane, copious quantities of alcohol, plenty of fuel for their vehicles (and firestarting), and amazing amountd of food. Why all the prep? Because things invariably got so rowdy the California Highway Patrol would simply barricate the three roads in/out, letting on one pass. They refused to enter the Zone, it having been proven worse than hoepless, rather downright dangerous to make any attempts at enforcing any laws within. Most of the non-indian residents would clear out, leaving their places to their fates. (I knew some of these people as friends) THEY would live to return to whatever remained. After the dust settled, CHP and sheriff would breach the barricades and go in, doing the critical mopup. There were almost always a few people shot, a few houses burned down, plenty of wrecked cars to drag off the roads, but they would, by then, have spent themselves "celebrating" and be ready to settle into another year's "normal". We thought it bizarre, but that was the reality. To my knowledge, no arrests were ever made in the mop-up, no charges laid. LEO seemed content to let them be, and bear the consequences of their, uhm, indiscretion all on their own.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
They waited until the fire was burning out of control... until it was too late.

They thought these people were civilized, but just out of control for a bit. So, the government bought the land and let them use it for free, but it just became a lawless place, because it was inhabited by the lawless.

Meanwhile, the police will happily arrest the lawful. After all, such people do not fight back. And the police will do it in unlawful fashion, too, because they and their bosses are also lawless.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I actually have to believe that Canadian police have learned something from Caledonia. I was truly stunned that when natives recently protested shale fracking in New Brunswick, the Mounties made arrests and laid charges. That protest has gone in a whole different direction, because the police showed just a bit of backbone. Impressive.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
RCMP are decidedly not OPP. And therein lies the difference.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
For the sake of non-Canadian readers, the RCMP is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and, in effect, functions as a national police force. The OPP is the Ontario Provincial Police, which is analagous to the State Police in the various US states. However, only two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have their own provincial police forces: the rest use the RCMP in the same capacity as American states would use their respective state police forces. The cultures of the two organizations are apparently somewhat different, according to Tionico. Having lived my whole life in Ontario, I've hardly ever seen an RCMP officer, aside from a former neighbour who was a retired Mountie.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now why should the Caledonian Indians/First Nations/Aborigines NOT believe that they are the actual owners of Canada and its lands? Their education, through affirmative programs and in the universities and public school systems, have maintained that these people are poor and disfunctional BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN OPPRESSED BY THE WHITE PEOPLE OF CANADA. Hence land claims, which have made lawyers and politicians wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.

I have for years been hoping that a group will 'claim' downtown Ottawa and (OMG) downtown Toronto. Such is the result of the decades long hypocrisy and sheer nastiness of Canadian Policies with regard to its Natives. (I love that word, 'schadenfreude' don't you? ) And I have ordered 3 copies of McHale's book. Now there is a hero.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure. Oppressed. Ask a Turkish Kurd what repression looks like. Canadian natives are as oppressed as Ango Quebecers.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Canadian Indians are not oppressed. These tribal leaders openly rejected the dissolving of the Indian Act which oversees their adamant collective. Those Canadian Indians who have left the tribal collective system are as normal, productive and wealthy as any middle class Canadian. The tribal leaders cling to collectivism as a way to keep government funds flowing. These tribal leaders themselves fully understand the structure of socialism and how it keeps them rich from taxpayer coffers. All the while they need desperately to keep "their own people" looking poor and being poor or the cultural game will stop and they might have to get a job. Take it from a Canadian who knows.

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Less, actually. The natives don't have to learn English if they don't want to [granted, that might be a dumb move, but], An Anglo certainly would have to learn French as spoken in Quebec, which is a language that causes the average Parisian to wince.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unbelievable, kathy. Good piece.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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