Walk for Peace Through Caledonia Highlights Native Land Claims

May 11, 2012, 3:30 PM EST

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The Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship in Caledonia, Ontario on April 28 remained a peaceful expression of support for native land claims, despite predictions from critics it would turn nasty.

"Everyone who took part, including many CAW members, are just so pleased with the peaceful, incident-free way that the Walk unfolded," said retired CAW National Representative Steve Watson, an organizer of the event. Caledonia is located about 35 kilometres south west of Brantford, along the banks of the Grand River. 

Watson said the event was a significant achievement since organizers were told by critics they would never have a peaceful walk through Caledonia advocating for a resolve to land claims, if "outsiders" came  -- like other Canadians who live only an hour's drive away -- if Six Nations people joined us on the Walk (and tread on land they never surrendered), if they attempted to cross Caledonia's historic bridge over the Grand River, and so on.

But all those things did happen and they happened with no incidents of any kind, he said. Ken Hewitt, Caledonia's mayor, tried to get an injunction to stop the Walk for Peace. No injunction was granted.

The OPP played hard ball a few days before the Walk saying we would have to use the sidewalks - a recipe for disaster as anyone who has ever organized a parade can tell you, but in the end they recognized that the only sensible thing to do would be to provide safe escort and redirect traffic, which is exactly what the OPP did as we took all lanes on Argyle Street and the bridge, he said.

"I was so impressed by the young activists in the Six Nations Solidarity Network and the skill and resourcefulness they displayed in navigating one of the trickiest disputes in Canada," said Watson.

The CAW was well represented in the walk. There were members from CAW Locals 504, 1106, 1285, 252, 2163, 636 and the Retired Workers Chapter of CAW Local 127. They included two Local Union Presidents Bill McLachlan (1106) and Carl Cywink (Local 2163). 

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