'Anti-racism' rally thwarted by outside activists

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

March 24, 2010

A group that crashed a rally organized to protest race-based policing in Caledonia last Sunday supports the native occupation of land in Caledonia, as well as other native factions that stopped development in Haldimand during the past four-plus years.

Many supporters of the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working group are from outside areas including Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener. Many of them came to Cayuga last summer to protest the first meeting of a proposed militia that was devised to address the issue of illegal smoke shacks on private and public properties.

On a megaphone, CUPE leader Tom Keefer accused some townspeople of being racist after they booed him and about 50 of his supporters for disrupting Sunday's gathering, dubbed as an anti-racism rally by organizers Gary McHale, Merlyn Kinrade and the Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality, to advocate equality before the law.

"Rally organizers belonging to CANACED claim they want equality, but are ultimately calling for an end to native treaty rights," said Niki Thorne.

"The government knew that the Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) lands were contested when it allowed them to be sold," according to a paper distributed by CUPE 3903. "If the government had developed a comprehensive land claims settlement process and had negotiated in good faith with Six Nations from the start, this problem would have never taken the form it has... Six Nations has pursued legal recourse for their lands, to no avail. Physically stopping construction has proven to be the only effective way to stop the continuing appropriation of Six Nations land."

McHale told about 50 rally supporters to go home and come back this Sunday at 2 p.m. outside the Lions Hall. He said that CANACE will continue to return until the OPP obeys its own rules.

Since 2006, the OPP;s "peacekeeping" during controversial protests has consisted of police lines separating natives from non-natives McHale said.

"Why are they mingling amongst us if peacekeeping is separating two groups?"

McHale said he cancelled the rally to prevent physical confrontation.

"Suddenly today the OPP refused to perform their duty and instead endangered the residents of Caledonia by allowing Native Protesters and their supporters to physically confront residents who had gathered for a peaceful protest," he said in a letter to the Minister of Community safety, Rick Bartolucci. "The last time I was in Caledonia at a rally the OPP failed to video tape the event and to provide proper police presence. The result was that my camera man and I were sent to the hospital due to the OPP's failure to separate the two groups."

CANACE supporter Mark Vandermaas said that members of the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group openly supported members of the Haudenosaunee Men's Fire, an organization to which a Superior Court Judge attributed "criminal and civil misconduct... characterized as nuisance, trespass, extortion, intimidation and inducing breach of contract."

Vandermaas said a CUPE 3903 report openly admitted the group's participation in an illegal road blockade in Caledonia in 2008 and boasts that Six Nations members have blocked more than $2 billion worth of development. The group is also linked to groups such as the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty that financially supported Deseronto occupation leader, Shawn Brant.

Keefer has been involved with several other radical extremist groups. according to members of CANACE.

Keefer mentions "Christian Peacemaker Teams" in keeping with his anti-Semitic activities," according to information provided by Christine McHale, and "this group is not only involved in helping native extremists in Caledonia, it also works with Palestinians against Israel. their website downplays the murderous intentions of Hamas in the Middle East."

Keefer was expelled from Concordia University because on August 21, 2001, he and the son of a Syrian diplomat were caught "spray-painting anti-Semitic slogans on school property and threatening the security guards who tried to stop them."