March 22, 1999
Blenheim, ON: CPT completes nightly vigils with Caldwell Nation

Christian Peacemaker Teams-Ontario recently ended nightly vigils to deter hate
crimes at the Caldwell band office in Blenheim, Ontario. The vigil started on
February 12, in the aftermath of vandalism committed on the band property at
the end of January. Each night three CPTers from southern Ontario came to
observe, document and report any undesirable night-time activity and to
dialogue with friendly visitors.

The Caldwell First Nation signed a land claims agreement with the federal
government of Canada in autumn of 1998 that outlined a procedure whereby the
reserve would purchase 4500 acres of land near Blenheim. When the agreement
became public in December an outcry against it arose among the local non-
native population. The acts of vandalism occurred in the context of this

Chief Johnson commented, "the Peacemakers' presence allowed us to recover some
peace of mind and make up some much needed sleep after our family's home and
the band's office were vandalized. We will carry on with nightly watches by
band members and other First Nations' friends."

The CPT workers did not encounter overt nighttime hostility during their
vigil, although they did observe cars passing slowly in front of the property
on some nights. CPT Ontario will remain in contact with the Caldwell nation,
and is prepared to resume a nightly presence if requested.

In reflecting on his four nights walking around the farmyard-sized property
and sleeping in a tent-trailer, CPT Ontario Reservist Joel Klassen said, "I
feel grateful for the welcome that Caldwells gave us. I think I tasted a
little bit of the vulnerability I would feel if some people in my community
tried to make my congregation feel unwelcome. I know that's only a partial
analogy, but it helps me begin to understand the seriousness of the struggle
that the Caldwells are involved in."

CPT Ontario's presence began in response to an invitation sent to it by Chief
Johnson through Mennonite Central Committee, which has worked with the
Caldwells over the last eight years, and has introduced CPT Ontario to other
aboriginal communities in southern Ontario over the last year.