Homebuilder injured in confrontation with Indians

Sep 14, 2007 02:14 PM

Peter Edwards
Toronto Star

CALEDONIA - A building contractor is undergoing tests in hospital to determine if he has brain damage after he was clubbed on the head by a Six Nations protester yesterday, the man’s brother says.

“I believe that my brother was one strike away from being killed,” an emotional Joe Gualtieri said today near the building site where his brother Sam was beaten unconscious yesterday.

Indians continued their protest at the southern Ontario housing development today under the watchful eye of police.

Gualtieri, 52, of Caledonia was found unconscious yesterday after he entered a partially constructed home — which he was building for his daughter — and clashed with several Indian youths.

His injured brother is drifting in and out of consciousness and is at times unaware he is in the hospital, Joe Gualtieri said, adding that 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 Indians 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.

“When he’s unconscious, do you still have to prove a point? To prove a point that you have a problem with the government?”

Yesterday’s occupation was set to end peacefully when the altercation with Gualtieri occurred.

His co-workers blamed Indian youths for provoking the incident, while the 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 today at the site, which was briefly occupied two weeks ago.

Joe Gualtieri told the Star that he wants Premier Dalton McGuinty to shoulder some of the responsibility for the simmering protest that has halted some construction in this community outside Hamilton.

Six Nations spoksepeople could not be reached for comment early this afternoon.

Joe Gualtieri said his brother found a Six Nations flag attached to the roof of a house that he is building for his daughter and that he was attacked by protesters when he went inside.

Joe Gualtieri held up photos of his brother’s bloodied face and said, “I would like the premier to look at these pictures and tell me that he’s protecting my family.”

A meeting is planned for tonight at the nearby Six Nations reserve to discuss the incident while local residents said they plan to renew protests over the occupation of housing sites.

He said he expects his brother will be able to identify the attackers if he is shown photographs, once he fully regains consciousness. He said he visited his brother in hospital this morning.

“He nodded when I said, ‘Can you identify if we show pictures?’ ”

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.

Yesterday's occupation was set to end peacefully when the altercation with Gualtieri began.

Indians 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 their approval.

Six Nations 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.