Aboriginals maintain protest at Ontario housing site; homebuilder in hospital

Sept14, 2007
Canadian Press

CALEDONIA, Ont. (CP) — Aboriginals are maintaining their protest at a southern Ontario housing development under the watchful eye of police following a confrontation that seriously injured a homebuilder.

Sam Gualtieri, 52, of Caledonia, Ont., was found unconscious Thursday after he entered a partially built house and clashed with several aboriginal youths.

Provincial police Const. Paul Wright says Gualtieri remained in hospital Friday in serious condition with what his brother said was a broken nose and bruised skull.

Wright says no arrests had been made but police are "working around the clock" collecting information and conducting interviews.

Owners of the Stirling South housing development, south of Hamilton, have reportedly said there would be no construction Friday at the site - which was briefly occupied two weeks ago.

The site is just kilometres away from another housing development that's been the site of a contentious Six Nations occupation for more than a year-and-a-half.

Thursday's occupation was set to end peacefully when the altercation with Gualtieri began. His co-workers blame aboriginal youth for provoking the incident while they claim they were just defending themselves.

Aboriginals said they occupied the site because developers had not followed up on a promise to learn more about their new development protocols. Traditional 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. Six Nations claim the land was never surrendered.