Six Nations leaders express regret over beating of construction worker

Last Updated: Friday, September 14, 2007 | 10:07 PM ET

CBC News

Aboriginal leaders from southern Ontario's Six Nations expressed regret Friday for the beating of a construction worker during a land-claims demonstration the day before.

"We cannot condone the violent actions of a few that resulted in Sam Gualtieri, a Caledonia contractor, being hospitalized. We wish to extend our regrets to Mr. Gualtieri's family and pray for a speedy and full recovery," Six Nations Haudenoniso confederacy council sub-chief Leroy Hill said in a statement.

Gualtieri, 52,  was found unconscious inside a partially built house Thursday at the Stirling South housing development near Caledonia, Ont., southwest of Hamilton. He had clashed with aboriginal youths shortly before a brief occupation of the site by aboriginals was set to end peacefully, reports said.

His co-workers blame aboriginal youths for provoking the incident, while the youths say they were just defending themselves.

Hill said the Haudenoniso people are committed to peaceful discussions concerning land rights.

"Those of our people who refuse to respect and honour this arrangement that was made in good faith ... are in violation of the peace and are on their own," Hill said.

Gualtieri remained in hospital on Friday with what his family said was a broken nose and bruised skull, police reported.

No arrests have been made, but investigators are working "around the clock," provincial police Const. Paula Wright said.

The housing development is located several kilometres from another housing development in Caledonia that has been the site of a Six Nations occupation for more than a year and a half.

Aboriginals said they occupied the site because developers had not followed up on a promise to learn more about their new development protocols. Chiefs at Six Nations say anyone planning to build in the area needs native approval.

The aboriginals were given the land in 1784 by the British Crown, but Ottawa says the vast majority was surrendered or sold by 1850. The Six Nations claim the land was never surrendered.