Toronto

Stolen papers offered to Caledonia developer – for a price

The developer of land occupied in a native protest in southern Ontario says it has been offered the return of important documents looted from the site – if it pays for them.

The developer of land occupied in a native protest in southern Ontario says it has been offered the return of important documents looted from the site – if it pays for them.

Meanwhile, an insurance company refused to pay for computers, tools and other items stolen from Henco Industries' office on the site near Caledonia – because it considered the looting to be an "act of insurrection" against the government.

Henco Industries had been using a model home on the land as its corporate office. It was looted on April 20 after the Ontario Provincial Police launched an abortive raid to clear out protesters, mostly members of the nearby Six Nations reserve who occupied the site on Feb. 28.

Michael Bruder, a lawyer for Henco Industries, told CBC News that he has received numerous calls from a man who said he was a middleman for the looters.

"I got a call directed to me two weeks ago from an individual who advised he was the intermediary for the protesters who had the documents, and [asked] what price were we willing to pay for the return of those documents," Bruder said on Friday.

"I told him that certainly we weren't prepared to pay because [the documents] were stolen.

I'm not using the word 'extortion,' but a number of people have said that to me."

Bruder said corporate records, archeological reports, computers, tools, furniture and equipment went out the door. But the missing records were the most important because without them, the company has been unable to file corporate or personal tax returns.

OPP launches investigation

The owners of Henco, Don and John Henning, approached provincial police officers on the site after they saw television footage of the looting, Bruder said, but "basically the response was 'We can't do anything because we can't get into the site.' So they said to go to the Indian leadership."

However, the OPP said Friday that it would be officially investigating the case.

No comment from Six Nations chief

Bruder said he also contacted representatives of the Six Nations reserve, including Chief Allen McNaughton, asking them to look into the case. He said he never received a reply.

McNaughton's office was contacted by CBC News but he was not available for comment.

Bruder said the company did not initially want to go any further with the police out of worry that it might exacerbate an already tense situation.

"Our clients have always been interested in a peaceful resolution and are reluctant to do anything that would result in the situation not being resolved peacefully," Bruder told CBC News.

"[But] my client's frustration level has reached an all-time high."

'Never seen a claim of insurrection in an insurance policy'

The company has been further frustrated because it can't get any money from insurance to replace the looted items, Bruder said.

He said the insurance company had declared the incident to be an "act of insurrection" against the government and therefore not claimable.

"I can safely say in 20 years of practising law, I have never seen a claim of insurrection in an insurance policy," Bruder said.

The native demonstrators occupied the site to stop Henco Industries from constructing 250 homes on the 40-hectare site. The natives say the land was stolen from the Six Nations more than 200 years ago.

The province says aboriginals gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new highway, an agreement a Six Nations spokesperson said was only meant to be a lease.

Six Nations filed a land-claim suit over the area in 1999.

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