BLENHEIM, ONTARIO--Making Little Ripples

December 17, 1999
BLENHEIM, ONTARIO--Making Little Ripples
by Scott Morton

'It's not high drama, it's painstaking, door-to-door work." That's how CPT
reservist Heather St. James-Perry described the day of door-knocking last
month undertaken by five CPT reservists, a committed volunteer, and CBC
Radio reporter Theresa Lalonde.

Our goal was to enter into dialogue with residents of the Chatham-Kent area
in southwestern Ontario who have "Not For Sale" signs posted on their
property. The signs went up several months ago as part of a response to the
federal government's agreement to settle the Caldwell First Nation's land
claim by making $23.4 million available to establish a reserve. The Caldwell
have said they plan to buy 4500 acres of land in the area over the next 25
years, on a "willing seller, willing buyer" basis.

By entering into dialogue with these community members, we explored their
motivation for putting up the sign and told them how the signs have been
perceived as a threatening and unfriendly gesture by the Caldwell people.

In our converations, we discovered a very complex situation and a broad
range of points of view. Emotions ranged from intense frustration with the
federal government to sadness at the deterioration of communication and
relationships between Native and non-Native residents. On the positive side,
we heard small glimmers of hope that relationships can be restored.

CPT will continue to be in dialogue with the Caldwell people and continue to
reach out to non-Native community members. The door-knocking volunteers
left with hopeful feelings. "It seemed that our listening and talking was
producing some fruit," remarked reservist Lena Siegers. Her fellow
reservist, Gerry Lepp, ended the day by saying, "Our efforts might seem
small, but I heard somewhere that if you dip your fingers in the water,
somebody will feel the ripples." This feeling was shared by Theresa Johnson,
a leader of the Caldwell Nation, who asserted that many signs have come down
since CPT last went door-knocking in September.

Let's pray that we made a few ripples in Chatham-Kent that weekend.