This past Sunday March 21, more than 50 people from across southern Ontario converged in Caledonia. “We were there to show solidarity with sovereigntists and land defenders from Six Nations, and to take a stand against racism and white supremacy in Southern Ontario and in Canada,” said Leah Henderson, a representative of the activist group AW@L.
March 21 was the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. The annual event was founded in recognition of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in 1960. However, in recent years, while the day is still recognized by anti-racist action around the world, the event has also been appropriated by white supremacists. In Vancouver, as many as 300 anti-racists crashed a would-be white-power rally held for White Pride World Wide day, also now held on March 21.
In Caledonia, Gary McHale and the same group of individuals that attempted formation of an anti-native Caledonia Militia last summer, called for a so-called “anti-racist” rally this past Sunday. These organizers accuse Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police of racism and two-tiered justice that discriminates against white people in the interest of “native extremists.”
The counter-demonstration group arrived at the rally site about an hour before those coming for McHale’s event. They stood at entrances to the site with banners and placards, handing out anti-racist literature. A large banner quoting Martin Luther King Jr. read: “Non-whites have committed crimes, but they are derivative crimes: they are born of the greater crimes of the white society.”
As the pro-McHale crowd of nearly 100 began their rally, a car equipped with a sound system pulled up, and the counter-demonstrators moved to the rally site.
CUPE 3903 First Nation Solidarity Working Group’s Tom Keefer took the mic and announced, “Welcome to the anti-racism rally in Caledonia... So I guess some people may have come here without understanding what the International Day for the Elimination of Racism is.”
Almost immediately, McHale’s crowd started to trickle away. Then, the counter-rally started a series of speeches which included Union activists from CAW and CUPE and other allies from across the spectrum, including a member of the Hoskanigetha (the Six Nations Men’s Council Fire).
During the speeches, people from both crowds were co-mingling. Surprisingly, many individuals were actually listening to what the counter-demonstrators had to say. This caused visible panic in Gary McHale and the other organizers of his so-called “anti-racist” rally, and they promptly cancelled their event and scurried off site.
An anti-racist, anti-colonial victory was declared on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Gary McHale has rescheduled his rally for Sunday, March 28 at 2pm. Another counter-rally rally has been called for 1pm at the Lion’s Hall in Caledonia.