By Victoria Gray
HAMILTON,ONT- Six Nations woman Chelsey Bouchard was arrested in front of her two young children while en-route to get groceries.
The 26-year-old Six Nations resident was arrested by Hamilton Police Services on February, 24 at 10:25 a.m. and held for a bail hearing.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) media relations officer Const. Rodney LeClair said Hamilton Police Services contacted OPP after they performed a traffic stop, and a check on the driver (Bouchard) revealed an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court.
“Signed and issued by a Justice of the Peace, the accused was arrested by Hamilton Police Service. OPP attended Hamilton where they took over custody. The Justice issued warrant for failing to appear for court was not endorsed for release by the Justice of the Peace, therefore, the accused was held for a bail hearing,” he said in an email.
She was held in Cayuga for the bail hearing and was released the afternoon of February 25.
LeClair said two court injunctions prohibiting anyone from going to 1492 Land Back Lane, the former Mackenzie Meadows site, and prohibiting the establishment of any road blockades in Haldimand County.
He also said the OPP contacted several people in the past to let them know they had outstanding charges and to go to the Haldimand OPP detachment.
“Giving the accused persons the opportunity to turn themselves in was helpful in de-escalating a potential confrontational situation. All of the individuals who attended the detachment were co-operative with police,” he said. “Anyone who is aware that they are facing charges are encouraged to consult with a lawyer, and contact the Haldimand County OPP to make arrangements to be served their court documents.”
Skylar Williams, spokesperson for Land Defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane said he watched the bail hearing and the charges against Bouchard were mischief, not abide court order and breach of her release conditions, but to his knowledge she has not returned to the site since she delivered food, water and clothing in the summer of 2020. He believes she was arrested in September or October the first time.
“We’ll continue to support her in whatever ways she requires. We’ll make sure she’s got a lawyer. Our legal fund is doing quite well, everybody is being taken care of really well. We’re making sure there are lawyers and representation. We’ll continue to support her in anyway we possibly can,” he said.
1492 Land Back Lane and DefundHPS (Hamilton Police Services) staged a protest outside of the HPS building on King William Street in Hamilton at 5:30 p.m. Sometime around 7:30 p.m. the protest moved to occupy the intersection of King and James Sts. demanding Bouchard’s immediate release.
Protestors chanted, “shame, shame,” “Indigenous lives matter here,” and “no justice, no peace, f*ck these whack a** police.”
A woman leading the protest at the station said Indigenous people would never stand down and would never stay quiet when it comes to injustice.
“I hope the OPP is listening loud and clear,” she said. “We will not stay silent in situations of injustice continuing in our community. It’s not going to happen. We will continue to raise our voices whenever injustice happens in our community, it always does and we will always be there to defend members of our community.”
She also said the land is Indigenous land and stolen land.
“They are defending their land and the police have the audacity, the audacity, to arrest us,” she said.
Chelsey’s mother, Nicole Bouchard posted on Facebook thanking everyone for their support.
“This has been an incredibly trying day but her babies are safe at home and she will hopefully be released tomorrow morning. She was transported to Cayuga so for anyone interested in being there to show your support we will be meeting outside the jail at 10am (sic) to greet her. I am so proud of my daughter and so grateful for the friends and family that have reached out today,” the post said.
Williams said although the incident is frustrating, it is not a new phenomenon and police all over the country employ the same tactics to discourage Indigenous protests.
“This is the typical reaction to people standing up. That idea that we need to protect corporate interests, that when we’re talking land claims, to them it’s only about dollars and cents, to them land claims are just corporate. For us is a much deeper thing than the bottom line,” he said. “This continued idea that we can just be paid off and bought out- it’s a ridiculous reason for many, many Land Defenders. There’s no monetary figure they can give for the land our ancestors fought and died for. The disrespect that would be, was that was all for nothing. That we wouldn’t stand up again and fight for the land they fought so hard for and gave their lives for. It’s somehow no longer important. We want to make sure whenever we’re talking about this we honour those ancestors and all the things they did for us, so we could have a place to live.”
Six Nations of the Grand River land claims are scheduled to be heard in Ontario Superior Court in October 2022.