Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us by Christie Blatchford

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If you have never ventured into the quagmire of First Nations and Canadian issues, laws, acts and history, then this book is NOT for you; it is not a good place to start.

In 2006, Native people from Six Nations blockaded a land development operation because they assert that that land rightfully belongs to the Six Nations. The trouble began way back in the 1840s, although, unfortunately,  Blatchford glosses over this history.

Back in the 1840’s there was a land sale which was to become the disputed land. The Six Nations say they had intended at that time to lease the land, not sell it.

While there is a paper trail that shows the Six Nations chiefs in the 1840s sold the land, there definitely is precedence for acknowledging that Canada has a prior history of swindling Native people’s land. The Bear Island case is one example, Ipperwash is another. Even here in Thunder Bay, the recent land settlement shows just how long these things take to work out…sometimes hundreds of years! To say, without a doubt, that the land in Caledonia under dispute is not Six Nations territory is folly.

In Blatchford’s eyes, the law  failed to protect the innocent Caledonians. But for a century and a half, the law may have already been failing the Six Nations (as it had failed other nations). It all depends on that “sale” back in the 1840s, something Blatchford readily dismisses as unimportant to the blockades.

Blatchford ignores all of this context and instead focuses on what natives did to the innocent Caledonians and how the OPP did nothing to stop “the natives.” The big argument being the “two-tiered” justice that many felt was in place.

According to Blatchford, the media, the police, the government and sympathetic non-native Canadians have all been bamboozled by political correctness. Her book attempts to prove this point, but it fails.  She has no interviews with Native people, she ignores context, and there are misconceptions about the application of Canadian law onto Native lands that the people she’s chosen to tell this story obviously have. One misconception is that the police (or army) is supposed to carry out the will of the people to rid the streets of “lawless” natives, rather than keep two mobs (native and non-native) separated. The other was this was just a case of “Indians going crazy” rather than (what started as) a legitimate land dispute.

Knowing that this began as a land claim dispute that exploded (due to reciprocal backlash) allows a person to actually understand what appeared to be senseless “two-tiered” justice.

 

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