The “Othering” of Natives in the Caledonia Dispute

On February 28, 2006, a group of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory set up barricades on the disputed lands in Caledonia to prevent the construction of the Douglass Creek Estates subdivision by Henco Industries (CBC.ca 2006). Since the barricades have been constructed, the media coverage on the reclamation protests has not been very sympathetic to the claims of the Natives. Much of the media coverage focused on the lawlessness of the Native protestors, violence, destruction of property, and blaming the Natives for impeding negotiations. The news paper articles did not focus much on the inaction of the federal or provincial governments in the issue but the focal point of articles was on the lawlessness of the protestors and their disregard for the law, which was stated as the reason for the suspension of the negotiations of the Caledonia land dispute (Wattie 2006). The news articles that are used in this media analysis are Brennan and Wilkes’ (2006), “Finding Caledonia Solution ‘Complicated,’ Peterson says; Charged with Resolving Land Dispute ‘Like Trying to solve the Israeli Issue’”, “End Caledonia Chaos” (2006a) and “No Time to Waste in Caledonia Clash” (2006b) by the Toronto Star, Wattie’s (2006), “Judge Suspends Talks Until Caledonia Occupation Ends”, Rook’s (2006), “Hundreds Flock to Protest Site: Officers Arrest 16 in Dispute Over Caledonia Development”, and the National Post’s editorial (2006), “Hardly a ‘Nation’”.

To begin, the media used different media framing techniques to deprecate the reclamation of the disputed lands in Caledonia. The media frames that were used include: the disruption frame and the violence frame. The media depended heavily on the disruption frame to suppress the protestors’ message for the reclamation of Caledonia. The Native protestors are framed as a disruption because they were “interrupting [the Caledonia residents] lives and dividing the quiet community into two” (Brennan and Wilkes 2006: A04). The disruption frame is furthered through the reporting of increased road blockades as the retaliation against the police attempt to forcibly remove the protestors on April 20, 2006, by raiding the occupation site (Toronto Star 2006a). The title of Rook’s article, “Hundreds Flock to Protest Site: Officers Arrest 16 in Dispute Over Caledonia Development” (2006), shows the disruption frame because it shows that crime, arrests, and traffic has increased in Caledonia after the land dispute.

The disruption frame is furthered through the violence frame. The media coverage of the Six Nations of Grand River reclamation is portrayed as extremely violent. In various news articles, the articles begin by describing the police breaking up fist-fights between the Natives and non-Natives, attempted murders, vandalism, and the burning of property and automobiles (Toronto Star 2006b; Toronto Star 2006a; National Post 2006). Also, the articles compare the Caledonia dispute to previous land claim disputes, such as the blockade in Oka, Quebec in 1990 and the shooting in Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 (Toronto Star 2006b; Rook 2006). The media shows how occupation in Caledonia resembles and could foreshadow the violence that was in Oka and Ipperwash (Rook 2006). The violence frame is also shown in the title of the Brennan and Wilkes article which compares Caledonia to the Israeli conflict (2006).

The media uses the disruption and violence frame as a technique to deem the Natives as the “other.” The media labelled the Natives as the “other” by highlighting their lawlessness through the incident in which the protestors defied a court injunction by not removing their blockades from Caledonia (National Post 2006). The media showcases the Natives as having “blatant disregard” (Wattie 2006:A1) for the rule of the law, whereas, non-Natives are showcased as law-biding citizens whose daily lives are being inconvenience by a dispute between the Natives and the government, through the occupation in Caledonia (Toronto Star 2006b). Also, the use of the frames to “other” the Natives is seen when they show how the Caledonia residents took up vigilantism to protect against the assaults and lawlessness on the residents by Natives, especially after the apparent non-involvement of the police in the occupation (Toronto Star 2006a).

The rationale for Caledonia residents’ vigilantism is to protect them against the “other” who is not controlled by the police (Toronto Star 2006a). The rationale for the lawlessness of the Natives was not explored in the articles. The articles focus on the actions and not the reasons behind the Native protests. The editorial, “Hardly a ‘Nation’”, by the National Post (2006) explores the history behind the Caledonia land dispute; however, it is limited because it discredits the protestors by using quotes that showcase how the Natives “cannot follow [Canadian courts] orders because [they’re] not Canadian. [They’re] Haudenosaunee” (National Post 2006: A20). This representation of the Natives by the media is problematic because it uses citizenship to exclude the Natives from the Caledonia residents, and essentially Canadian citizens. This is relevant to Rose’s idea of inclusion and exclusion in “Government and Control” (2000). The Caledonia residents’ use of vigilantism relates to the de-centred crime control by the state and the criminal justice system because the “good citizens” follow the public order and morals of the state, which is used it to control delinquency; in this case the protestors (Rose 2000: 324). In the article, “End Caledonia Chaos”, by the Toronto Star (2006a), it asks for increased police intervention. The demand to contain the Native protestors relates to Rose’s idea of exclusion because the article asks for increased law-and-order policing to contain and control the risky individuals, the Native protestors, who pose a threat to the “general public”, the Caledonian residents (Rose 2000: 333). The portrayal of the Natives as the “other” by the media reinforces the colonial history of Canada. In the editorial “Hardly a ‘Nation’” (National Post 2006), it provides the history behind the Haldimand Proclamation, but it does not explore the treaty obligations that were continually ignored by the government and the exploitation of the Caledonia land; which was not fully relinquished during the Haldimand Proclamation (Gordon 2011: 70; CBC.ca 2006). The media’s portrayal of the Caledonia land dispute continues the racial subordination of the Natives because they continue to be blamed as the problem to the land dispute despite their legal claims to lands that they have not relinquished to the state (Gordon 2011; CBC.ca 2006).

From the media coverage of the Six Nations of Grand River reclamation, the coverage of the issue is biased against the Native protestors. The media stresses the importance on the Canadian law; however, Canadian law was not designed to protect Aboriginal rights but allows the continued colonialization of the Indigenous and the accumulation of wealth by the state (Gordon 2011: 101). The media’s attempts to be sympathetic to the land claims are overshadowed by the blaming and the framing of the reclamation as disruptive and violent; which continues the states goal of exploiting Indigenous land by delegitimizing the land claims by the Six Nations of Grand River.

Reference List

Brennan, Richard and Jim Wilkes. 2006. “Finding Caledonia Solution ‘Complicated,’ Peterson Says; Charged With Resolving Land Dispute ‘Like Trying to Solved the Israeli Issue.” Toronto Star, May 1, pp. A04. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

CBC.ca. 2006. “In Depth: Caledonia Land Claim: Historical Timeline.” CBC.ca. November 1.  Retrieved October 9, 2012 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/caledonia-landclaim/historical-timeline.html)

Gordon, Todd. 2011. “Empire at Home.” Pp. 66-133 in Imperialist Canada. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing.

National Post. 2006. “Hardly a ‘Nation’.” National Post, Apr 22, pp. A20. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

Rook, Katie. 2006. “Hundreds Flock to Protest Site: Officers Arrest 16 in Dispute Over Caledonia Development.” National Post, April 21, pp. A1. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

Rose, Nikolas. 2000. “Government and Control.” British Criminology Vol. 40: 321-339.

Toronto Star. 2006a. “End Caledonia Chaos” Toronto Star, June 16, pp. A22. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

Toronto Star. 2006b. “No Time to Waste in Caledonia Clash.” Toronto Star, May 24, pp. A18. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

Wattie, Chris. 2006. “Judge Suspends Talks Until Caledonia Occupations Ends.” National Post, August 9, pp. A1. (Retrieved from ProQuest on December 1, 2012.)

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