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Differ/End: The Caledonia Project

Differend PosterDirected by: Andy Houston

Performances: Febraury 7-9 & 14-16, 2008

Venue: Hagey Hall 180, Humanities Building

Text by: Gilbert Garratt​
Dramaturgy by: Lisa O’Connell
Music and Soundscape by: Colin Labadie
Film and Visual Documentation by: Peter Mabrucco

                              

As the mist rose early in the morning of April 20, 2006, Ontario Provincial Police officers attempted to end a 52-day land-claim occupation of a southwestern Ontario construction site by members of the Six Nations reserve. Armed with M16 rifles, tear gas, pepper spray and Tasers, the OPP moved in and arrested 16 people.

By 9 a.m. hundreds of protestors returned to the site. Fires were set. Roads were blocked. Protestors climbed on vehicles and waved Mohawk flags while police helicopters roared overhead. ‘As long as it takes,’ vowed a protestor. A call was sent out to other reserves to send more demonstrators. As night fell, busloads of supporters arrived at the site, the newly developed subdivision of Douglas Creek Estates, in the small town of Caledonia, Ontario.

Today the land stands empty, the existing homes struck down, their infrastructure torn out. Even the topsoil has been removed and sold off. Twisted and broken lamp standards guard paved roads that negotiate the land of this stillborn suburb and lead to nowhere.

How could this happen? How could a burgeoning subdivision in a bedroom community become the battleground for a 200-year-old land claim dispute? Could it happen in your neighbourhood? Is the land under your home disputed? In our modern democracy where differences are acknowledged and even celebrated, how could this happen?

These were a few of the questions asked by the student-researchers from the University of Waterloo’s Drama Department as they made their way to Caledonia during the fall of 2007.

Over a period of several months, under the supervision of Professor Andy Houston, twenty-five students conducted extensive first-hand research. They spent time with and interviewed people of the town of Caledonia, people of the Six Nations Reserve, native historians, people who watched the dispute from their backyards, and people who have travelled from outlying communities drawn to issues of land and justice. Now the students are ready to share their experiences and discoveries with all of us who share the land.