House Blockade House Down

Ms. Chatwell, 45, and her husband, David Brown, 42, and son, Dax, 18,
are suing the Ontario Provincial Police and the provincial government
for failing to protect them or enforce the law
against native protesters around their home.
Natives from the nearby Six Nations reserve,
protesting against an unsettled land claim,
had seized the Douglas Creek Estate,
a planned housing development.


It grew violent and fiery after the OPP tried to eject native protesters,
only to be pushed back by a growing throng of natives.
After retaking the site,
native protesters erected roadblocks on the thoroughfare leading to it,
trapping the Brown-Chatwell house, alone, on the native side of the barricade.
The police would not breach the native's barricade,
even when witnessing criminal acts.

Police turned & abandoned woman to natives
by Barbara Brown, Hamilton Spectator, Dec 4, 2009
Dana Chatwell teetered between tears of frustration and moral outrage as she testified yesterday about the volatile native standoff at the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia and the overwhelming stress on her family. "I've had enough of everybody," said Chatwell, her voice growing louder and more forceful. "I'm tired of fighting the government. I'm tired of fighting with the police. I'm tired of fighting the natives. I'm tired of fighting Caledonia. I'm tired of fighting with Caledonia people who say just keep quiet ... I'm not going to keep quiet."

Chatwell, 46, and her husband, David Brown, 42, and son, Dax Chatwell, 18, are suing the Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for $5 million, plus $2 million in punitive and aggravated damages. The family, whose Argyle Street South home backs onto the 28-hectare residential construction site occupied by Six Nations protesters in February 2006, say police adopted a hands-off policy toward the aboriginal land claim and abandoned the plaintiffs to the chaos and lawlessness that ensued. For nearly four years, she said, they have lived in fear for their lives and the safety of their property without the protection of the law. She said the protesters continue to this day to harass, intimidate and threaten them, knowing the OPP will not enter the property or interfere.

Under questioning by her lawyer, Michael Bordin, Chatwell said she and her husband deserved a medal for remaining non-violent in the face of such extreme provocation. She suggested that someone might be dead by now if other homeowners with more confrontational attitudes had been in their place. "I'm angry. I'm bitter. I'm sick of everybody thinking that we're racists and we're not ... I just hate it," said Chatwell, who grew up in Caledonia in a blended family of six girls, three of whom are half native. She said her family has not celebrated Christmas in their traditional fashion since 2005. She had always been among the first to put up lights and decorate the tree, but the stress of their home life had left husband and wife barely able communicate civilly or cope with their day-to-day routine. Chatwell said she sold her new patio set because the family could not sit out on their deck or in their yard without being heckled by protesters. She said her husband, who used to enjoy cooking outdoors, gave up in disgust and sold his fancy, high-powered barbecue.

Earlier yesterday, Chatwell described a harrowing incident during the Labour Day weekend in 2008. She received an urgent call from a friend who had a police radio scanner. The friend warned that protesters were setting up another road blockade on Argyle Street and urged Chatwell and her son to get in their car and drive into town. As she drove toward DCE, Chatwell noticed three men dragging a metal guard rail across the road. She got out of her car and pleaded with a male protester to let her and her son pass through the barricade. The large man, who was carrying a two-by-four board, told Chatwell she would not be be going into town that day. Chatwell said she was not afraid at that point because it was daylight and there were two OPP cruisers behind her vehicle approaching the barricade. But then the man with the board suddenly began swinging it at her. Chatwell looked over her shoulder to see the OPP cruisers had turned and were driving off in the other direction. Her son, Dax, looked in a panic. He had climbed into the driver's seat of her car, as if he might try to take a run at the native protester threatening his mom. "As soon as I saw those two OPPs leaving me, I was scared. And I knew that I was in way over my head," said Chatwell, who ran back to her car, told her son to move over, turned her vehicle around, and sped off south to the Caledonia bypass to reach the north side of town.


Canadian Couple's Native-Protester Court Case, Caledonia Wake-Up Call

Besieged family's home torn down
by Kaz Novak, Hamilton Spectator, Jan 16, 2010
Dana Chatwell looks wistful standing on the side of the highway on a cold, foggy morning and watching a bulldozer knock down her childhood home. The bungalow on Argyle Street South where she grew up with her parents and five siblings represents a lifetime of memories -- not all of them good. The Ontario government wasted no time in demolishing the house it obtained in an out-of-court settlement late last month with Chatwell, 46, her husband David Brown, 42, and their son Dax, 18. The family had been suing the province and Ontario Provincial Police for $7 million for effectively abandoning them to the lawlessness that surrounded the native occupation of the former Douglas Creek Estates property next door to their home.

Financial terms of the settlement are confidential and it was reached without any admission of liability by the government and the OPP. "Well, like I said, it's sad, but I'm also happy that it's coming down," Chatwell said. "I'm having mixed emotions. My dad wouldn't come today. He said he's staying home to remember it the way it was". Chatwell said her family got the last of their furniture and personal effects out of the house yesterday, and the government brought in the heavy equipment the same day. Chatwell was not alone as she watched the house come down. Word of the demolition got around town pretty fast. Cars and trucks were soon parked along both sides of the highway, with dozens of spectators stopping for a look. The couple's lawyers and provincial representatives negotiated during the Christmas recess and reached the settlement just days before the trial was to resume. Whether a slip-of-the-tongue or an unintended political announcement, a lawyer for the government, David Feliciant, at one point in the trial referred to the occupied site next to the couple's property as the "DCE Reserve".

After getting a settlement, Chatwell and Brown went out and bought a nice brick house in town for $260,000. She said it has a beautiful back yard on a creek. She looks forward to putting out patio furniture, relaxing, barbecuing and enjoying the peace of mind she has not known for almost four years.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Bielby heard four weeks of dramatic and often emotional testimony from Chatwell, a self-employed hairsylist, and Brown, an unemployed heavy equipment operator. They testified about the overwhelming stress on their marriage caused by almost daily confrontations with native protesters. They lived in fear, unable to sell their home and unable to live in it with anything approaching a normal life. Their former property was bordered on two sides by the residential development project known as the Douglas Creek Estates that was seized Feb. 28, 2006, by a handful of Six Nations protesters pressing historic land claims. They told court they lived in terror trapped for a month behind barricades natives erected after a failed OPP raid in April 2006. They were harassed by day with threats to kill them and burn down their house, and at night by bright spotlights, drumming and chanting.

Caledonia couple settles with police & government
by Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post, Dec 31, 2009
The Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police have reached an out-of-court settlement with the Caledonia family that claimed they were terrorized during a period of lawlessness when Six Nations protestors occupied a nearby housing development in 2006. The settlement with Caledonia, Ont., residents Dave Brown, Dana Chatwell and their son Dax was finalized on Tuesday, and was reached without any admission of liability by any party. "The family is pleased with the settlement and look forward to putting this difficult episode behind them", said Michael Bordin, one of the lawyers for the couple. "They are satisfied that this has been resolved, and now want to move on with their lives". The financial terms of the settlement are confidential and documents have been filed to officially dismiss the case. The surprise move came just days before the couple's trial was scheduled to resume on Jan. 4 in a Hamilton courthouse. "The government is pleased this complex matter has been resolved", Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, said in a statement....

Ms. Chatwell said she and her family suffered physical, emotional and financial stresses, and recounted tales of being trapped on the native side of the blockade where members of the Six Nations Reserve had taken over the 70-acre construction site as part of a wider land grievance claim. "I'm tired of fighting with the government; I'm tired of fighting with the police; I'm tired of fighting with the natives; I'm tired of fighting with Caledonia; I'm tired of fighting with Caledonia people who say just keep quiet", Ms. Chatwell told the court on Dec. 3. "I'm angry. I'm bitter. I'm sick of everyone thinking we're racists when we're not ... I've had enough". Ms. Chatwell told the court that a snake was put in their mailbox, mail went missing, fireworks were shot at her house, a letter was dropped off saying the writer wished she would get cancer, nails were strewn along the length of their driveway and natives repeatedly threatened the family, including threats that her son would be hurt at school.

Mr. Bordin said that despite the turmoil of the past few years, the family is deeply rooted in the community and plans to relocate within Caledonia albeit away from the contentious and still-occupied housing development. "I grew up there", Ms. Chatwell told the court on Dec. 6 during her first day of cross-examination. That same day, she told the court that she refused to move out until "I get my money from my house". The provincial government has since purchased the land, which lies 95 kilometres southwest of Toronto, and has allowed the occupation to continue.

Insurance firm cited 'terrorist act'
Coverage cancelled on house at centre of native protest
by Adrian Humphreys, National Post, Dec 3, 2009
The house at the centre of the lawsuit launched over a lack of protection during a clamorous native occupation in Caledonia had its insurance coverage cancelled for fire damage caused by a "terrorist act", court heard yesterday. The ominous warning came in a letter from the insurance company in the same month that the white homeowners watched natives turn away fire crews as a partially constructed home burned on the aborted residential subdivision site that sparked the land-claims protest. The family had also been threatened by protesters that their house would be burned to the ground, court heard. "I can't believe this is going on in Canada right now," Dana Chatwell testified yesterday at the civil trial over her lawsuit with the Ontario Provincial Police and the province. "I cannot believe the fire department can't go in there and put a fire down". The Aug. 2, 2006 letter, sent to her by Pilot Insurance, read: "We will no longer insure damage caused by fire resulting from a terrorist act."

Provincial bureaucrats experienced a brief taste of life at her house when they came to view her property as part of a compensation process, she said. The two grey-haired men from the Ontario government visited on June 24, 2006, and her husband was showing them the outside of the house that abuts the 70-acre occupied site on two sides, testified Ms. Chatwell. While they were on her lawn, about five native men on all-terrain vehicles approached on the other side of their fence. "These two provincial guys ... went white as anything. They went running back into the house", Ms. Chatwell said. They were in such a panic that one slipped and fell as he scrambled away from the natives. Inside the house the two men said they could not believe the family put up with this. "I said, 'We live like this everyday'", she testified.

Ms. Chatwell, 45, and her husband, David Brown, 42, and son, Dax, 18, are suing the Ontario Provincial Police and the province for failing to protect them or enforce the law against native protesters around their home. Court previously heard of threatening and dangerous incidents by native protesters against the Brown-Chatwell family throughout the ongoing occupation. The occupation, that began on Feb. 28, 2006, was to protest land-claim grievances by members of the nearby Six Nations Reserve but it grew violent and fiery after the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) tried to eject native protesters on April 20, 2006, only to be pushed back by a growing throng of natives. After retaking the site, native protesters erected roadblocks on the thoroughfare leading to it, trapping the Brown-Chatwell house, alone, on the native side of the barricade. Court heard earlier that police would not breach the native's barricade, even when witnessing criminal acts.

Ms. Chatwell told how she went into her house and grabbed all of her important family documents -- passports, birth certificates, and others -- and took them out of the house. "I felt sure my house would be burned to the ground. I didn't expect to see my house again," she said. She paused several times in her testimony to wipe away tears and once for a lengthy break when she sat with her head buried in her hands, almost resting on the desk of the witness stand as she answered questions posed by one of her lawyers, Michael Bordin. The barricades were taken down on May 23, 2006. Ms. Chatwell testified, however, that did not mean her life of turmoil ended. "The barricades are open, whoop-dee-s--t", she said. When the blockades first came down, a confrontation between natives and Caledonia residents sent them right back up again. "All of a sudden, hell just broke loose. It went crazy", she said of the hours after the blockades were first removed. This time Ms. Chatwell was unable to get back to the house where her beloved dog, Hunter, was.

She saw David Peterson, the former Liberal premier who was appointed as a provincial negotiator, at the site and sought his help, she said. "He's supposed to be some big shot who came into town to settle things", she said. "Would you please walk with me to my house because my dog is there", she said she pleaded with Mr. Peterson. "I can't walk up there. I can't go there," he replied, according to Ms. Chatwell. She told him: "You're not even trying to help me. Where am I supposed to go?" At that point in her testimony, David Feliciant, lawyer for the government, rose in objection, preventing Ms. Chatwell from saying what Mr. Peterson's reply was. Court also heard the fragmented entries scribbled by Ms. Chatwell in a diary she kept in 2006, point-form notations that formed an odd sort of dark poetry.

"Lites, lites, lites all nite on house", reads the April 8 entry, about spotlights and headlights that native protesters often shined into her windows for hours. "Crappy day; not feel good at all! Can't stand looking outside!" she wrote on June 1. "Way at the bottom ... No use of life at all", on June 22. "I think I'm getting a ulcer" on July 9; and "Knocking on my windows all nite", on Aug 19. Court did not hear the case Monday or Tuesday because Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Bielby was ill. Ms. Chatwell is scheduled to continue testifying today.









10.The Rulers & 22.Doublethink

Jackie Jura
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