Thursday, July 27, 2006.
Peace Promoters Convicted of Trespass but Sentence Suspended in Burlington, Ontario;
Ruling Finds Private Property Rights of Military Manufacturer L-3 Wescam Take Precedence over the Lives of Those Targeted With Wescam War Technology
Burlington, Ontario, July 27, 2006 -- The scene today in Burlington's provincial court #1 was fairly unusual, in the words of the Prosecution, the Justice of the Peace and, by their own admission, the defendants, as a group of peace promoters was convicted of trespassing for their role in a peaceful demonstration at military manufacturer L-3 Wescam in Burlington, Ontario. Nine members of the Mothers Day Coalition for Peace, which includes Homes not Bombs and Hamilton Action for Social Change, had been arrested for seeking a dialogue with the Wescam president last May.
Indeed, a court normally reserved for speeding tickets and arguments over who caused a vehicular collision became home to a teach-in on personal responsibility during a time of global emergency. Among the issues discussed were the rule of law and the role of law when it comes to the private property "rights" of corporations that violate international law and Nuremberg Principles with war production. Another major focus was on the right -- indeed, the obligation -- of citizens to speak and act to end the complicity of individuals, groups, and companies that contribute to the planning for and execution of mass murder.
What was perhaps most pleasing about the day was the packed courtroom of those awaiting the opportunity to resolve traffic tickets, many of whom had not known what was produced at the massive L-3 Wescam factory at 649 North Service Road. Rather than wait outside the court and do crosswords, most individuals stayed glued to their seats. Some cried during the emotional testimony of the defendants as they talked about the brutal purposes to which L-3 Wescam technology is used; others later thanked the group on trial for their convictions and their actions, with some staying right till the end of the day to hear the verdict.
And although some of them may be loathe to admit it, it also felt as if the police, prosecutor, and the justice of the peace were all a bit challenged and shaken, in a transformative way, by the day's events.
A SIMPLE MATTER?
It seemed on paper like a simple matter. A group of people refused to leave company property, admitted they refused to leave, but refused to plead guilty with an explanation. Even the offer of a reduced fine in exchange for a plea of guilt was refused by the defendants. There was a context that needed to be explained, and while both the Prosecutor and the Justice of the Peace reminded the group that they were not to turn the court into a political forum or a continuation of the demonstration, that is pretty much what happened from the get go.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Thursday, July 6, 2006
HAMILTON MUSIC NOTE by Ric Taylor
VIEW MAGAZINE: July 6-12, 2006
Kay has been working the grassroots political landscape for the past six years while also working part-time as volunteer coordinator for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster.
Just up Highway 6, local landscape has made headline news for the last few weeks and Kay is hoping to raise more awareness about the situation with a concert in kind this weekend.
"I've been trying to support the Six Nations activists, some of whom I met during the Red Hill days," recalls Kay on some of his activities trying to maintain the green space before the expressway.
“I respect their courage and really feel that we can all do something, to not stay silent as they assert their rights. I noticed that other cities were having support rallies and there didn't seem to be much happening in Hamilton, (even though) we're so close to the reserve.
"I spoke with a couple friends who are close to the Six Nations struggle and they thought a benefit would be great. At Caledonia, we see a people who have survived genocidal policies and state sanctioned abuse standing up for their rights," Kay adds to explain the nature of the current dispute over land rights.
“Opposing them we see a strong racist reaction that is shameful in its ignorance of the history of Aboriginal/Canadian relations. With the land claim at Douglas Estates, we can see the strength of the traditional leadership stretching their wings, so to speak. I'm referring to the Six Nations confederacy as the traditional form of government, forced into exile by the RCMP in 1924. Maybe we can think about the history behind the current situation and reflect that maybe we have screwed these people over long enough, and maybe we can consider that we all benefit from having a living example of a different way of living and governing that the Six Nations confederacy gives us."
While Kay has also invited Six Nations musicians and spokespeople to attend, the activist has also enlisted some friends and some new acquaintances for the musical benefit. Anyone that would like to help the cause or learn more is welcome to participate.
“A few are friends, but most are people I've never met," says Kay.
“You know some of the performers are political people, but there's no test, it's like if you want to play and understand why we're doing it, that's enough."
“If people who are fans come out and maybe pick up a bit of information and have a good time listening to great bands, well, we'll have some money to give to Six Nations activists," Kay reasons. “If we get a few more people interested in helping right some of the wrongs of the past, then that's like icing on the cake.
6N, a benefit concert to support the Six Nations' land claim at Caledonia happens this Thursday, July 6 at The Casbah featuring Mark LaForme, Tiny Bill Cody, Kim Koren and friends, The Ray Materick Band, Raphael Keelan, Martin Verral, Jack Pedler, Tim Gibbons, Linda Duemo, Katie Caron and more. Doors for the all ages/licensed event open at 8pm and proceeds from the $6 cover go to Six Nations.
For more info contact Hamilton Action for Social Change at 905.525.9140 x26026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
6N Benefit Concert, Casbah, July 6, 2006
The July 6 "6N" benefit concert raised over $1,000 to support the Six Nations struggle in Caledonia.
The concert was a public gesture of support, one of the few public solidarity actions in Hamilton since the land re-claiming began, and a way to financially support the dedicated work of Six Nations' activists seeking justice and recognition of their rights as a people.
From the moment singer/guitarist Kim Koren stepped onto the Casbah stage until Mark LaForme's band closed the place five hours later, the hundreds in attendance were treated to some of the finest music in the city.
Between Koren and LaForme, performers Katie Caron, Linda Duemo, The Ray Materick Band, Harrison Kennedy, Martyn Verral, Raphael Keelan, Tim Gibbons, Jack Pedlar, and Bob Lanois and others filled the Casbah with music as they loaned their considerable talents to support the land claims struggle just a few minutes down highway 6.
Wes Elliot and Hazel Hill spoke to the audience about the ongoing struggle they face in holding their ground in the face of adversity and deeply ingrained racism. Elliot, while thanking people for showing their support, went further and invited supporters to come to the site and see for themselves what is going on. An info table set up at the club had a wealth of information available for free, including backgrounders delving into the historical roots of the Six Nations Confederacy and the current land claim.
Thanks go out to many people for making it happen, especially Mike Hampson who did the brunt of the work bringing the line-up of performers together, and to Brodie and the staff at the Casbah who supported the event from the start to finish. The all-volunteer effort included the talents of Keisha Quinn who designed the poster, Sandy and Mike for putting us in contact with Mark LaForme (himself a member of the Mississauga of the New Credit band), Cheryl Walker for setting up the info-table, Al Loft and Julie Gordon for initial enthusiasm for the idea and Al for helping MC the event. Thanks go out to Ric Taylor at VIEW and other media like CHML, CFMU, the Hamilton Spectator, and CKRZ for advance publicity; of course the performers and finally, the people of the Six Nations for their courageous stand.
The concert subsequently generated some letters to the editor in the local daily (for and against) and the evening created an opportunity to open up lines of communication between aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups in the area. Support came from as far away as Calgary Alberta, Kanehsatake and Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information about the land-re-claiming please visit www.reclamationinfo.com/, sisis.nativeweb.org/actionalert/#updates, www.ckrz.com/, or take up the sincere offer to visit the site.
Let us be the generation that supports justice for aboriginal people
Letters re. 6N BENEFIT CONCERT
The wrong noteBy Lisa Dicy, Caledonia
The Hamilton Spectator(Jul 10, 2006) Re: 'Concert raising funds for Six Nations land claim' (The Spectator, July 6)
When are people going to understand that the protest taking place at Douglas Creek Estates is illegal? The people who held and participated in this concert are encouraging illegal activity to continue.
The protesters have been ordered off the land by our judicial system. Is this not the backbone of our society?
I know, they don't abide by our rules and laws. I've heard it all before, but in Canada, which is where we are, there is supposed to be one law for all.
There has been a moratorium placed on the land which forbids any building on it (apparently the protesters don't believe that applies to them), and it has been placed in trust until the land claim is dealt with.
The money made from this concert was to be given to the protesters to do with it what they want. That's a terrible idea. Why not put the money into fighting for the land claims to be handled in a timely and legal manner, instead of giving them money to continue to illegally occupy land which has not been proven to be theirs?
Those who supported this concert should speak with the residents who back onto the occupied land, or the non-aboriginals living on the 6th Line. Ask them what their lives have been like since this "peaceful" illegal occupation began. Perhaps then you will see that handing over money to law-breakers, with no strings attached, isn't a wise idea.
Canada's double standardBy Jennifer Asimoudis, Ancaster
The Hamilton Spectator (Jul 14, 2006) Re: 'The wrong note' (letter, July 10)
The letter writer questions when people are going to understand that the Douglas Creek Estates protest is illegal. Does this writer not understand the nature of land claims?
Comprehensive land claims are about the illegal occupation of native land by Canadians, land where aboriginal title has never been ceded or extinguished. The residents of Vancouver and Ottawa including Parliament, for example, occupy unceded native land.
Is it not a double standard and discriminatory to expect Six Nations' people to vacate the Caledonia site, while allowing Canadians to remain illegally on unceded native soil? What happened to one law for all?
In co-operation with government, natives also do not expect to expel anyone already settled and occupying these sites.
Where is our forbearance with them?
As for putting funds raised into fighting for land claims "to be handled in a timely and legal manner," was it not a slap in the face to Six Nations' people that government could so easily and swiftly arrange to finance the developers and Caledonia businesses with funds totalling in the millions of dollars, yet continue to delay Six Nations' land claims for years?
Is this not institutional racism?
Considering Canada's recent about-face, by objecting to the United Nations Human Rights Council's declaration to protect the rights of indigenous people around the world, Six Nations' protesters have cause for concern regarding the moratorium on the Caledonia site. Canada has been, and obviously still is, notorious for reneging on its own promises to its indigenous people.
The protesters need to stand their ground. We need to help them do that.