Road blockades up at Caledonia after OPP arrest demonstrators at residential development

A group of protestors from Six Nations of the Grand River have McKenzie Meadows site for roughly two weeks, dubbing it "1492 Land Back Lane."

Police moved in to enforce a court injunction and arrested 'fewer' than 10 demonstrators

Some Six Nations residents set up a blockade on Argyle Street in Caledonia after OPP officers enforced an injunction on demonstrators at a nearby housing development. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Provincial police say they've arrested several demonstrators who were occupying a residential development near Caledonia, Ont.

The OPP's Haldimand County Detachment released a statement Wednesday saying its officers assisted with enforcing a court injunction against demonstrators at the McKenzie Meadows development and arrested fewer than 10 people.

In the wake of the police action, Six Nations demonstrators set up a blockade on Argyle Street south of the Town of Caledonia and on the Highway 6 bypass.

Some vehicles were being let through after a short delay. Smokey fires at the blockade flared up at points with people shouting sometimes near the barricade. 

A group of protestors from Six Nations of the Grand River took over the McKenzie Meadows site roughly two weeks ago, dubbing it "1492 Land Back Lane" and creating a Facebook page by the same name where they've been sharing updates.

"Mackenzie Meadows is one of several housing developments within the area that are directly violating the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee," reads a description of the group.

"Collectively we remain firm in our stance that action must be taken to stop the ongoing development of our lands."

An OPP officer guides car past the blockade on Argyle Street, south of Caledonia. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The Six Nations of the Grand River elected council, however, says the band had been "accommodated" in two ways for the work being done at the site.

In a community update released on July 24 the council said Ballantry Homes, which is one of the companies developing McKenzie Meadows along with Losani Homes, transferred 42.3 acres to Six Nations in 2016. The builder also transferred $325,000 to the elected council, which was put into a land banking account for future purchases in 2019, according to the release.

"Ballantry Homes, as a third party owner of the land, has no legal obligation to accommodate Six Nations but it did anyway because it is aware of the Claims by Six Nations against Crown Canada and Crown Ontario," it states.

The elected council noted out that most of the land in Oneida Township went out of Six Nations possession in the 1850s, 60s and 70s.

"The remedy for lands and money that were unlawfully taken back in the 1800's is against Crown Canada and Crown Ontario," reads the release, adding the claim is that the Crowns breached their fiduciary duty by unlawfully dispossessing Six Nations of all its land and money.

"Six Nations commenced an action against both Crowns in 1995 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The suit is being actively prosecuted and the trial is scheduled to start in October of 2022."

Representatives for Ballantry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

William Liske, vice-president and chief legal officer for Losani, said he was at the site Wednesday.

"Our only comment is that today's events allow us to re-commence construction activities, and deliver our products to the 180 families patiently waiting for their homes," he wrote in an email to CBC.

Videos show heavy police presence

The OPP say they helped a court sheriff read and deliver an injunction on July 31 and then "attended the demonstration site and assisted with enforcement of the court injunction," on Wednesday.

In a statement the OPP said it took a "measured, professional and safe approach"  to enforcing the injunction.

Images shared on social media showed barriers burning near Caledonia. (Jl Jamieson/Facebook)

Videos shared on the 1492 Land Back Lane Facebook page showed a large number of OPP officers walking toward demonstrators at the development.

Later posts included photos of burning barriers across area roads.