by Gary McHale - The Regional
December 9, 2009
Dana Chatwell was on the stand for three days last week in the Brown/Chatwell lawsuit against the OPP, Ontario Government and three named OPP officers.
Entered into evidence were 5 calendars and a diary used by Chatwell to record some of the daily events in 2006 and 2007. Mr. Bordin, her lawyer, walked her through approximately 100 recorded events of intimidation, threats or other problems.
Several times during her testimony Chatwell broke down and cried, "I am tired of fighting. I am tired of fighting the Government, tired of fighting the OPP, tired of fighting the natives, tired of fighting with Caledonia and tired of fighting with Caledonia people who say we should keep quiet and that nothing is happening. It is not quiet and I am not going to be quiet. I have had enough of everyone. I am sick of everyone thinking we are racist, I've had enough."
"I am beaten, I am done... I am angry at people. I am miserable. I am not a perfect person. I drink a lot, lots of times I was a stupid idiot drunk."
Prior to the OPP raid on April 20, 2006 there were so many problems that the OPP stationed a car 24/7 by her driveway from March 3, 2006 until they suddenly left on April 20, 2006.
Even in these early days, there was loud music, drumming and chanting all through the night. On March 10 her clients grew concerned about dropping in at her hair salon because 5 natives were on her property. From that point on her business went downhill.
By April 2 hundreds of natives were on DCE and they started trucking in gravel and wood. Starting in April she received threats from natives yelling at the edge of her property and her 15 year old son, Dax, was being threatened at school. By April 8th the natives started driving up close to her house shining their headlights into the house all through the night.
During this period of time the OPP assured her that everything would be fine. Even after the raid on April 20, Insp. Haggith repeatedly told her that the barricades would only last two weeks. But the barricades were up for five weeks and during that time she had no garbage pickup, no mail service, no school bus service, no clients were allowed through and no police service at her home.
Chatwell also testified about how the natives would stand at the edge of DCE and call out the OPP saying, "Here piggy, piggy, piggy" after they had done something on Chatwell's property.
On April 22 Mayor Trainer, Toby Barrett, Diane Finley and Insp. Haggith called her regarding the 'nightmare' she was living in. That was also the day that for the first time Dax had to move away from home. He would to do the same dozens of times. At one point Dax lived on Manitoulin Island for 8 months and went to a native high school there.
By Dec. 2008 the relentless stress created medical problems for both Brown and Chatwell. Brown was put on short term disability by his doctor and later placed on long term disability. Chatwell started developing hives which made it impossible for her to walk. Her doctor ordered her not to work for a full month then added another three weeks to that order. She collapsed at work from stress and is still on medication.
Chatwell told the court she felt the OPP and Government had abandoned them. One day the natives would not let her go home so she asked David Peterson to walk her to her home. When she pointed out her house he told her that he could not go there. Later that day she saw him on DCE.
A video from June 22, 2007 was entered into evidence showing natives starting fires on DCE and then coming over to Chatwell's house and yelling at her. In the 15 minute clip there must have been over 1000 swear words hurled at the couple, many of them unprintable. The video also showed 6 OPP officers standing beside Brown & Chatwell the whole time while natives threatened them, threatened to burn down their home and threatened the OPP officers.
Chatwell informed the court that no arrests were made regarding this event.
In the fall of 2006 a truck load of natives drove onto her driveway and started getting out a ladder. Chatwell said she went crazy because the OPP just watched. She said, "I grabbed a baseball bat and went out screaming at them to get the hell off my property." They told her they owned her property. "I started swinging the bat and screaming at them and they pulled out. I ended up stopping traffic... I was in my freaking Mickey Mouse neon green pyjamas acting like a crazy woman going after these people", she said.
Another truck with more natives pulled into her driveway. They also left moments later. Chatwell's friend called 911 while she was outside and the OPP called her back hours later but never showed up to her house.
On more than one occasion Chatwell stated Insp. McLean called and told them to get out of their house. On June 28, 2007 Insp. McLean called about a native person who was seen carrying a gun and told Chatwell to leave her home. The Statement of Claim states that "although McLean and other OPP officers were stationed less than 500 metres from Chatwell's Residence, no OPP officers attended at her Residence to ensure her safe evacuation from the Residence."
In Nov. 2007 the shack at the entrance to DCE was set on fire. Chatwell called 911 because she thought it was the church on fire. At 3 a.m. the OPP came to her house to take her statement which included her watching 3 native people walking from the shack through her yard to Gord's Garage and getting into a van.
Chatwell also testified to the house on DCE being on fire. The police and fire department were not permitted to attend the fire. She watched as native occupiers grabbed pails of water and carried them to the roof to put out the fire. "It was crazy. To this day they have never had a fire Marshall check out what happen. I can't believe this is happening in Canada. People do not comprehend what goes on out there." At the time native radio (CKRZ) had reported that the fire was started on purpose when two native groups started fighting over who was going to live in the house.
The same week she received a letter from her insurance company informing her that her home insurance would not cover fires resulting from a Terrorist Act.
The court heard the details of the tire fire that was on DCE just two weeks ago. Three fire trucks went onto DCE and put out the fire. Chatwell stated there were no Six Nation's police or OPP anywhere. She stated she has since spoke to Insp. Periversoff and was surprised to hear that he didn't know anything about the tire fire but he promised to check into it.
Chatwell stated, "We were the criminals" referring to how the OPP treated them. When their home was ransacked the OPP interrogated Brown, Chatwell and Dax. Dax, who was 15 at the time, was subjected to a two and a half hour interrogation including questioning about ransacking his own home or having his friends do it. There is no evidence the OPP ever questioned any native people. The ransacking of their home cost tens of thousands of dollars in damages. The phones weren't working so Chatwell had to drive to the OPP stationed at the Baptist Church beside DCE to report the break in. The damages included people urinating on their beds, kitchen cupboards ripped off, furniture thrown in the hot tub, broken china her mother had kept for her, smashed mirrors, broken beds, the TV had a coffee table thrown into it, the couch was sliced up and several derogatory statements were spray painted on the walls including 'Go Home', ' Bitch', 'White Trash', 'Pigs', 'Racist' and other more vulgar phrases that cannot be reprinted. In the end the OPP placed a hidden camera in Chatwell's kitchen. The OPP cleared Brown, Chatwell and Dax of any wrongdoing.
Several times the OPP attempted to get Brown and Chatwell to sign documents to allow them to arrest residents for trespassing. On Jan. 17, 2007 the OPP came to her home and asked her to sign the document but she told them to get out of her house, stated the residents were standing up for what they believed in.
Chatwell testified to numerous incidents including natives swarmed the church property, an AK47 a native had on DCE which resulted in a shooting at a smoke shack, OPP officers on her deck watching fires on DCE who told her not to call the fire department, hay bales provided by the Ontario Government to help stop soil erosion these bales being used to create fires, natives played loud music, hiding in the bushes making strange noises, shoning lights, launching fireworks, knocking on her windows of her house in the middle of the night, natives driving around in their yard, stolen mail and endless verbal abuse. In most cases the OPP didn't respond to 911 calls.
Kenneth Green (a.k.a. Sleeper) blocked the road on Labour Day weekend in 2008 along with creating a tire fire on the #6 bypass. The Government provided Chatwell and Brown a hotel room for 3 days but when they returned Green was standing at the entrance to DCE. They phoned 911 and eight police cars entered DCE. The officers got out of their cars and were a few feet away from Green but suddenly they got back in their cars and left.
The Crown only asked Chatwell about a handful of the events she testified to. In each case the Crown asked Chatwell whether she provided the OPP with the identification of the natives who were intimidating or threatening her or whether she had followed up on any of her 911 calls to provide additional information. Each time Chatwell stated, "No."
The Crown attempted to show that the OPP were trying to maintain the peace by creating a no-go zone around DCE. Chatwell pointed out that this zone didn't apply to her property nor the people living on 6th Line - it only applied to homes along Thistlemoor and Braemar. When the Crown asked her whether she ever saw the OPP patrol this zone she stated, "No... I asked numerous times to have a cop to be stationed in my driveway but was told they couldn't because that would irritate the natives."
Chatwell also testified to the number of rallies she attended including the first rally prior to the raid on April 20, 2006. Chatwell organized this rally and had Ed McCarthy speak about the historical issues regarding DCE.
The Crown spent a fair bit of time going through Chatwell's financial records. Detailed information was entered into evidence regarding her business records, MasterCard statements and tax returns going back to 2002. Chatwell had cashed in tens of thousands of dollars worth of RRSPs and Educational funds to help cover the bills in 2006 and 2007. Chatwell received two inherences over the last few years and a $25,000 loan from one of the builders in Caledonia. There was no time limit set on when payments had to start but this loan would be repaid when funds were available.
The Crown abruptly ended their cross examination after only a few hours and court has been adjourned until the first week in the new year.