Chatwell equates occupation with spousal abuse

by Gary McHale

Regional News This Week - Dec. 2, 2009

Dana Chatwell finally took the stand last Thursday and provided the court with a brief background of her life including the fact that she was born in Caledonia and lived here all her life except for a year when she moved to Mexico.

When she was in grade one the family bought the home on Argyle St. after her mother re-married a man who had 3 daughters. Her father, Gord, had been married to Janet Garlow, a full native woman, so Chatwell was raised in a home where race was not an issue. She told the court that she and her 3 half-native sisters got along well together.

Chatwell graduating grade twelve a year early, and went to hair school at the age of 17. By 19 she took out a $7000 loan, hired a few girls and opened her own business in Caledonia. At the height of business she employed 12 people.

She was married in 1987 and her son Dax was born in 1991. But her husband mentally and physically abused her. The first time she was physically abused she had him charged with assault and got a peace bond against him. After attempting to reconcile her marriage she stated, 'he again beat me pretty bad - close to death." He was sentenced to serve two years in a Federal Penitentiary in Kingston. She had previously given her husband and his partner a $75,000 loan and had to declare bankruptcy.

Chatwell didn't want to be a 'beaten single person in Caledonia', so she and Dax moved to Mexico and Dax was enrolled in a local monastery along with the other Mayan children. She worked at a hair salon in Cozumel Mexico until returning to Caledonia.

Chatwell started dating Dave Brown in 2001. In 2005 they bought the family home on Argyle St. with money Dave had in his RRSP. Dave and Dana then worked hard on renovating the house including the basement to set up a hair salon business at a cost of $30,000. In addition to this they replaced the windows in the house, installed a gas fireplace and repainted the main floor along with other work.

Chatwell stated the mental abuse by her husband was far worse than the physical abuse. "You get hit and it is over but the mental abuse keeps wearing on you."

She equated with this the DCE occupation. "This whole situation, I feel it is like spousal abuse. It keeps going and going and it is mentally draining and it doesn't seem to end at all. You just keep thinking you are being kicked in the stomach and it is not ending."

Entered into evidence was Chatwell's diary and 5 calendars which she used to record the daily events over the past four years.

The Hamilton court was closed Friday for Judge Marshall's funeral but she will continue her testimony this week.

Meanwhile, last week Dave Brown continued being cross examined and was on the stand for 4 days. Three volumes of 911 calls from the couple were entered into evidence representing 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The court heard about the night Brown crawled on the ground to get close enough to see occupiers unloading long crates that had Russian writing on them. He reported this to Insp. Haggith who suggested they could have contained AK47s. Dave was asked whether he ever saw the OPP enter DCE to check out the crates and he said, "No."

The court heard about the night Dave videotaped the occupiers lining up their vehicles at his property and shining their lights into his home. On the video a native woman's voice is heard saying, "Stop harassing us. Put your camera away. You're violating our rights."

The Crown asked, "Why wouldn't you put your camera away, clearly you were agitating them?" This question caused those in the courtroom to groan out loud.

The court room heard that in Dec. 2006 Brown found a letter in his mailbox titled the Christmas Prayer. The same prayer was posted on the Six Nation's Reclamation site and started off with the following sentence:

"Dear Sweet Baby Jesus: Can you remove all the cancer from Frank and put it all in Gary McHale please? Frank is a cool, wonderful family man who has risen to every test the Creator has put him through, whereas McHale is a sad, evil, racist bastard with no children who doesn't deserve the wonderful life that this country has provided for him..."

The Prayer then states, "Also Sweet Blessed Baby Jesus, can you send your priests to perform anal punishment on..." then it lists about ten people from Caledonia.

This prayer ends with an Amen and with  the phrase "The white man is Evil."

The court heard that in Nov. 2006 Brown woke up to find a warrior flag flying on Chatwell's business sign in their front yard. The occupiers entered his property and broke his flagpole taking the flag. They then stood at the edge of DCE taunting the OPP daring them come on and get the flag as well as threatening to burn Dave's house down. Consequently, two OPP officers were stationed in a car in their laneway. These officers then watched as the occupiers raised warrior flags on each pole along Argyle St. across from the DCE down by the power substation. The two officers never once got out of their car.

The court heard about a weekend when Brown was away and upon returning he found out about how Mr. Green, (a.k.a. Sleeper who lived on DCE), had closed the road. Mr. Green had attacked Dana and Dax with a 2x4 and two OPP officers saw this but turned their car around and drove away.

Brown was asked what effect all this had on him. He said, "This is getting back to why I never slept. You know what is going on and everyone knows what is going on and nothing is being done about it. Your mind starts thinking that eventually they could come into your house or they could harm you. I have said this before that I was hoping I was going to survive this thing. I really hoped I might. You can sit there and say that you get used to being threatened and being called names but you never do. The ugliness and hatred that has happened in this. I don't know where it came from and I don't believe I started it."

The court heard of his increasing use of cocaine and other drugs, as well as alcohol in order to try to cope with, not just the occupation, but the feeling of being abandoned by the OPP. He testified that prior to the occupation he believed you "could always call the police, but now it's as if the OPP are giving you a pep talk, as if saying we hope to see you tomorrow."

One day the OPP received a 911 call from Brown stating he was going to set himself on fire and that the occupiers were threatening him yet again. When the OPP arrived the officers could not get him to calm down. He was arrested under the Mental Health Act and taken to the Hospital in Hagersville then transferred for a 3 day observation but was released the next morning.

Brown testified, "I lost Dana, I lost myself... How I reacted after so long, I am so ashamed of so many things I have done that I would have never done. I am not that guy and I don't know what kind of guy I am now. I never asked for this, no one did"