Indigenous demonstrators, who describe themselves as land defenders, began to remove barricades Thursday on Highway 6 in Caledonia, Ont.
They are using a front-end loader to scrape gravel and rocks off a portion of the road that has been closed to traffic for about two weeks.
Spokesperson Skyler Williams says the work will take some time.
“The roads will need to be inspected by MTO and repaired (where needed) before they would be reopened,” said OPP Const. Rod LeClair in an email to CHML News. “I don’t have a timeline on that at this time.”
LeClair added that he did not have a status update regarding the Mackenzie Meadows development site at the heart of the demonstration.
Read more: Land defenders re-occupy Caledonia residential development, say ‘trust has been broken’ with OPP
“In the interim, the OPP Provincial Liaison Team (PLT) remains engaged and communicating with not only the demonstrators, but also many community members who have voiced their concerns,” said LeClair.
But Williams adds that despite the removal of the road blockade, the group’s month-long occupation of McKenzie Meadows will continue.
“Just because the roadblocks are coming off the highway, it doesn’t have anything to do with us coming off the land,” said Williams. “Our community has screamed loud and clear that we aren’t interested in any development on our territory, and certainly not on our doorstep.”
The blockades on Highway 6 went up Aug. 5 following arrests at a nearby housing development which the land defenders say is unceded Haudenosaunee territory, even though the elected Six Nations band council agreed to its sale.
The group has renamed the site 1492 Land Back Lane.
The Six Nations of the Grand River elected council said it was “accommodated” for two developments on McKenzie Road, both financially with $352,000 paid to its land banking account in 2019, and with the transfer of 42.3 acres of land across from Little Buffalo along Townline Road in 2016.
However, the demonstrators have said the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is considered to be the territory’s “actual governing body” that should be in charge of making land deals.