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More arrests made by OPP as Six Nations group continues to occupy Caledonia residential development

It's now been more than 50 days since the group of 'land defenders' from Six Nations moved onto the McKenzie Road housing development in Caledonia. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

OPP have arrested two more people in connection with a court injunction involving a controversial housing development in Caledonia.

The McKenzie Meadows site has been occupied for more than 50 days by demonstrators from Six Nations – a group that identifies itself as ‘land defenders’ who have dubbed the site ‘1492 Land Back Lane’ and say it’s on unceded Haudenosaunee territory.

According to OPP Const. Rodney LeClair, 20 people have been arrested in connection with the court injunction that was granted to Foxgate Developments earlier this summer.

Two of the latest arrests involved a 35-year-old from Hamilton and a 36-year-old from London who were charged on Monday with mischief and disobeying a court order.

“All were released and scheduled to appear in court at a later date,” wrote LeClair in an email to Global News.

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Skyler Williams, who is the lead communicator on behalf of the group at Land Back Lane, alleged that the number is higher than that, putting it at 26 arrests as of Tuesday afternoon.

That number has not been confirmed by Global News.

Since nine people were arrested at the development site on Aug. 5, the remainder of the arrests have happened off-site.

Read more: Indigenous journalist, academic speak out against charges in Caledonia, Ont., land dispute

One of those who was arrested recently is Courtney Skye, a resident of Six Nations and a policy analyst at the Yellowhead Institute.

What’s happening at the McKenzie Road site, said Skye, is the active process of challenging a system of laws that have historically led to Indigenous people losing control of their land.

“We’re in this active space of lawmaking, of relationship-building, and this is the really difficult kind of work of whatever reconciliation becomes,” said Skye during an interview on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

“This is actually what it means. It’s not renaming buildings, or that kind of stuff. It’s this actually really hard question of who bears the burden of correcting these mistakes of history. And what seems to always happen, is that it falls on the Indigenous people to organize themselves, to continue to raise awareness about the oppression that they experience, and to organize against it.”

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Williams said they’re planning on staying at the site, despite the injunction — which was extended at the end of August and is scheduled to go before the courts again in October.

He said they continue to remain peaceful and expressed his frustration the story has not received the same level of media coverage since the blockades on major roadways in Caledonia were removed.

Read more: Demonstrators removing road blockade on Highway 6 in Caledonia

“It is a group of people in the middle of a field, cooking, laughing, telling stories,” said Williams. “On the weekends, we have lots of people come out and play lacrosse, and we have bands … things like that. It’s much sexier when there’s a big fire in the middle of the road or something like that.”

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On Wednesday, representatives from the provincial and federal opposition NDP are scheduled to meet with members of the Six Nations elected band council, as well as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs’ Council.

“I’m quite interested to see what fruit will bear from those conversations as well,” said Williams.

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