The roadblock on Muskoka Rd. 38 (Doug Crosse)
One of the protesters inside the Wahta Cultural Centre says they want some big changes.
A group calling itself The Grassroots People Of Wahta have taken over the building west of Bala to bring attention to what it calls a corrupt system.
“What we’re trying to accomplish,” says Dave Stock, “is to get everyone to rise, all our Indigenous brothers and sisters.” Stock spoke with MyParrySoundNow.com via telephone from inside the centre.
The group is accusing the local band council of corruption, but taking those accusations further, saying the corruption runs all the way through to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. It says band councils were imposed by the Government of Canada to undermine traditional governing systems.
“It’s not our way, and never has been our way, and it promotes corruption,” commented Stock.
Stock said that he has personally delivered fraudulent documents to the police and was told there is nothing they could do about it.
“So apparently it’s okay to be fraudulent in here, to create an enemies list. Human rights protect the people out there but don’t protect us.”
Stock said the group is also trying to bring attention to other issues First Nations communities deal with.
“There’s missing and murdered, there’s all kinds of different stuff that’s going on in the background. We have so much proof of corruption, all kinds of things that go against the people. We never seem to get any justice anywhere. It’s okay to kill an Indian apparently.”
Stock emphasized that this is a peaceful protest and despite rumours that are circulating, the group has no weapons in the building, adding that there are women and children inside as well. He said he believes the rumours of weapons came from one of the band councillors.
The Bracebridge OPP has closed Muskoka Road 38 between Wahta Road 3 and Wahta Road 5 while it investigates what it calls an “unlawful entry” to the Cultural Healing Centre. The OPP says there is no threat to public safety beyond the area contained by police. Stock said so far the police are leaving them alone but that there is a large presence of officers in tactical gear.
When asked how long they’re planning to protest Stock said the group was discussing that amongst themselves but agreed that they’re in for the “long haul.” They’re pushing for a “return to our traditional forms of government based in the inclusion of our families, our clans, and all our people.”
MyParrySoundNow.com has reached out to band council for comment.