BLENHEIM, ON: Who is my Neighbour?

CPTNET
Oct. 9, 1999
BLENHEIM, ON: Who is my Neighbour?
By Doug Pritchard

The land surrounding the band office of the Caldwell First Nation in
southwestern Ontario is covered with hundreds of expensive plastic signs
saying "Not For Sale". These signs were posted by a local citizens committee
earlier this year as soon as the federal government announced they had
signed an agreement in principle to settle the Caldwells' 200 year old land
claim.

The Caldwell now have funds to purchase land and create a
reserve for their people. But the land is "not for sale". Not for sale to
whom?

To find out, 5 CPTers and 2 members of a local group, Friends of the
Caldwell, spent a day knocking on doors asking landowners about their signs.
"I'm just being neighbourly," said one man. "My neighbours asked me to put
up a sign and neighbours have to stick together so I put up a sign. I have
nothing against the Caldwell."

"I don't want an Indian reserve here," said another woman. "I'm not being
racist, but you know what reserves look like-full of junk and shacks and
dirty kids. They'll drive the value of my land way down."
Another neighbour said, "I don't want a reserve here. The Caldwells'
purchases are driving land prices sky high."

Chief Larry Johnson of the Caldwell First Nation replies, "The reserve
system is the only way we have to preserve Indian land for future
generations. We have been neighbours for years and we already manage 700
acres of farmland in this area."

Chief Johnson also has a sign on his mailbox. It reads, "Canadian racism can
be beaten". He remains hopeful.