Home builder in hospital after fight at Ontario aboriginal protest site

Fri Sep 14, 7:24 PM ET

Canadian Press

CALEDONIA, Ont. (CP) - Aboriginals continued their protest at a southern Ontario housing development Friday under the watchful eye of police following a confrontation a day earlier that seriously injured a home builder.

Sam Gualtieri, 52, of Caledonia, Ont., was found unconscious Thursday after he entered a partially constructed home - which he was building for his daughter - and clashed with several aboriginal youths.

Gualtieri suffered a broken nose, a bruised skull and has fluid leaking into his spinal column, his brother Joe Gualtieri told Hamilton TV station CHCH.

In a town where another aboriginal occupation ongoing since early last year has at times resulted in violent clashes, Gualtieri said such confrontations must stop.

"(Aboriginals) cannot take the rule of law in their own hands and assume that we will just roll over," he said.

"Somebody has to take responsibility for this. The government has to take responsibility for this, the police have to take responsibility for this and the native people themselves have to take responsibility for this."

His injured brother was drifting in and out of consciousness and was at times unaware he was in the hospital, Gualtieri said, adding he wants those responsible for the attack charged with attempted murder.

He said his nephews were with his brother at the house when a group of aboriginals went inside and confronted them. Sam Gualtieri was then beaten with what may have been an oak railing.

"When the one nephew found him unconscious, the individual had just finished striking him again ... beating him over the head, when he was already unconscious," Joe Gualtieri said.

The Six Nations Confederacy held a news conference to apologize for the incident.

"We cannot condone the violent actions of a few that resulted in Mr. Sam Gualtieri being hospitalized," said Chief Allen MacNaughton, adding the confederacy is working closely with police to bring those involved to justice.

"We wish to extend regrets to Mr. Gualtieri's family and pray for a full and speedy recovery."

Thursday's occupation was set to end peacefully when the altercation with Gualtieri occurred. His co-workers blamed aboriginal youths for provoking the incident, while the Six Nations protesters claim they were defending themselves.

Provincial police Const. Paula Wright said no arrests had been made, but investigators were "working around the clock" collecting information and conducting interviews.

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

Six Nations officials say anyone planning to build in the area needs aboriginal approval.

The site is just kilometres away from the Douglas Creek housing development that's been the site of a contentious Six Nations occupation since February 2006.

The aboriginals were given the land in 1784 by the British Crown, but Ottawa says most of it was surrendered or sold by 1850. The protesters claim the land was never surrendered.