Self-titled land defenders surpass 90 days on site, respond to Haldimand Council comments

By Haldimand Press Staff

CALEDONIA—Skyler Williams, representative for the self-titled land defenders at the re-named 1492 Land Back Lane, posted on October 16, 2020 as the group reached three months on site.

“Continuing to hold space 90 days later. We are building. We are working on the law stuff. Still squeezing in time to laugh and tell a story or two,” said Williams, who is one of over 30 people arrested in conjunction to the demonstrations that began on July 19. The first wave of arrests took place over two months ago on August 5 when the OPP attempted to clear the site; unable to hold the lands, the OPP have yet to attempt a similar move.

Following the arrest of Williams’ wife on October 14, who Williams said attended the site to read a poem during one of their weekly Unity Jam sessions, Mayor Ken Hewitt released his letter to the Attorney General from Haldimand Council on Facebook.

Hewitt stated ahead of the letter, “I will say that the only people criminalizing these protestors are themselves. I will continue to support the OPP in their efforts and applaud them for taking the stand, such as arresting family members of Skyler Williams. I look forward to hearing of his arrest shortly.”

Williams shared the letter and responded, “Here is the racist mayor of Caledonia calling for the arrests of my teenage children, elderly parents, and applauding the OPP for targeting my wife.”

Two days later Williams reiterated that Hewitt’s statements, in conjunction with the Haldimand Police Services Board calling the demonstrators terrorists, “confirms the deeply entrenched racism that we are dealing with here in Caledonia.”

Williams went on to thank all of their supporters for bringing supplies and donating funds. As of press time, the Land Back Lane Legal Fund had its goal raised to $500,000 and had raised about $230,000 from over 3,000 donors. Supporters are also planning a “phone and email zap to demand justice for Six Nations land defenders” on Wednesday, October 21 at noon, during which they will contact the OPP, Premier Doug Ford, and others to demand the criminalization of the demonstrations end. Visiting the site is currently made illegal by temporary injunctions granted by the courts. Judge Woodward Harper extended the injunctions earlier this month and told Williams that when court resumes October 22 he will only hear Williams’ “constitutional question” in court if the demonstrators have vacated the site; otherwise, the judge said he would make the injunctions permanent.

The first group of those charged appeared in court on October 19 to discuss their personal criminal charges, with others scheduled to attend court in future weeks. 1492 Windsor Law Coalition, a group of students from Windsor University that support the demonstrators, sent out updates live through the day. Members of their group were able to gain access to the Zoom hearing as law students, while many members of the public were not permitted access.

Six defendants were seen, with the Crown electing for summary conviction on all six. It was announced that Ian McCuaig represented all the defendants so far. Those six defendants are expected to return to court with McCuaig on November 24 at 1:30 p.m.

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