February 20, 1999

by Natasha Krahn
(with additional information from MCC-Ontario news service)

It was 4:00 am and Lena Siegers and I had just completed out third (or was it
fourth) circle of the Caldwell Band Office property since 2:30 am. All
appeared to be quiet. It was CPT Ontario's sixth night of keeping watch. Two
to three CPT reservists had been on site and awake every night
watching and doing rounds checking for further signs of vandalism.

The backstop at the baseball diamond hangs askew. All five of its supports
have saw marks; two are completely sawn through. There are also saw marks on
the corner post of the partially completed new barn. Spray painted in bright
orange on the exterior are the words "CONDEMNED" and "Abide by the LAWS!"
These acts of vandalism took place two weeks ago.
They are only a few signs of the anger the community feels toward the Caldwell

Ever since the Canadian Government settled a $23.5 million treaty with the
Caldwell a large percentage of the Chatham-Kent municipality has expressed
their outrage. The $23.5 million is to be used to buy land so that the
Caldwell people - the only First Nations band in southwestern Ontario without
a land base - can buy 4,500 acres of land in trust for a future reservation.

However, on just about every mailbox within a ten kilometre radius of the
band office are white signs with green lettering NOT FOR SALE. The words not
added to the signs are "TO NATIVES" - a clear message that many of the
Caldwell's neighbours are not happy with the government's decision.
And they are not willing to sell land to the Caldwell.

CPT, in cooperation with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Ontario, came to
be a presence with the Caldwell people at the invitation of Chief Larry
Johnson, who has maintained contact with MCC-Ontario for years. We do
periodic rounds all through the night to reduce the risk of further vandalism.

When asked why CPT-Ontario was ready to accept the Caldwell/ MCC invitation,
Benno Barg, who has served with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron, said:

"CPT was formed in part to reduce violence and we have some years of
experience in the West Bank and Chiapas. But for this work to have integrity,
we also need to respond in Canada where tensions have produced inappropriate
or dangerous hostilities. We recognize we cannot solve the root issues here,
but we can act to reduce tension so the involved parties have space to work
toward resolution."

CPT reservists who have been or will be keeping watch at the site are Nina
Bailey (Waterloo), Benno Barg (Waterloo), Matthew Dick (Waterloo), John Finlay
(Walkerton), Joel Klassen (Kitchener), Natasha Krahn (Waterloo), Gerry Lepp
(Harrow), Gina Lepp (Harrow), Scott Morton Ninomiya (Waterloo), Pieter
Niemeyer (Mt. Albert), William Payne (Toronto), Lena Siegers (Brussels),
Elinor Snell (Waterloo), and Heather St. James-Perry (Niagara-On-The-Lake).

For More Information:
Christian Peacemaker Teams Ontario Acting Coordinator:
Benno Barg 519-896-9982

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
Rick C. Bauman 519-745-8458