Redstock Draws Thousands!!!!
Local News - Saturday, June 17, 2006 @ 01:00
If you didn’t like the music at the Concert for Kanenhstaton on Friday, all you had to do was wait 15 minutes. So many Canadian and American performers wanted to appear at the giant event at Chiefswood Park, nicknamed RedStock, the schedule had to be tightened and extended by two hours to fit in almost 40 acts.
Organizers ended up saying no to some musicians after a swell of support in the arts world left them with a packed program that ranged from traditional drumming and flute music to blues and an Elvis tribute artist.
“We had to turn away quite a few performers,” said Tuesday Johnson-MacDonald.
The hastily-organized concert raised funds for Kanenhstaton, or the Protected Place, which is how natives have been referring to the protest site in Caledonia. Money has been needed for food, shelter, fuel for generators, cell phones and now, legal fees.
There was little in the way of politics at the concert however, except for those found in song lyrics. Every 15 minutes a new performer or band rotated to the stage and the program was extended from ten hours to a full 12, ending at midnight.
Hundreds turned up during the afternoon hours and thousands rolled in during the evening. “It has been one of the easiest projects I’ve worked on,” Johnson-MacDonald said, estimating that up to 8,000 people had visited during the day.
Final tallies weren’t yet available at 10 p.m. but the organizer said $18,000 had already been counted.
“We tried not to spend any money we didn’t have to and people were very generous with their help.” More than 100 volunteers were on the site to deal with security, parking and manning gates where all bags were checked for contraband. The rules specified that no alcohol or drugs were allowed.
“People have been driving five and six hours to get here, coming from Toronto, London and Cornwall.” And the performers came from even further afield, busing or flying in on their own dime from across Canada and as far as New Mexico and California. Many Six Nations' artists also played, including Juno-winner Derek Miller, Mohawk songstress ElizaBeth Hill, popular oldies' band Old Chicago, country singer Rebecca Miller and the traditional Old Mush Singers.
The day of peace and unity was first envisioned by Tyendinaga musician David Maracle, who was thrilled to look across the sprawling grounds of Chiefswood Park and see his dream become a reality.
Maracle’s own father died of a heart attack after making a rousing speech at a protest and he feels a kinship with those fighting over issues of land claims, water problems and health.
“We’ve got to make something happen. Everybody has to stand and show there’s a lot of support for native issues.”
Many non-natives turned out at the concert to show that kind of support and to enjoy the variety of music.
Glen Marshall of Jerseyville -- and no relation to the Cayuga judge who has been ruling on injunctions against the protesters -- brought his family of five as an act of solidarity.
"I was brought up in Caledonia and went to a school that was 40 per cent native, but their history was never told. Now I think the news clips on TV are just a version of the story through a limited window.”
Marshall said he can’t help but be disappointed in the events that have unfolded in Caledonia over the last three months. It points, he said, to a need for the government to negotiate settlements to the various outstanding land claims.
Don Brown, a Halifax man who came home to Brantford to deal with cancer, said he attended the concert for both musical and political reasons. “This is an excellent place by the river,” he said. “I can see why they want to keep their land.”
Caledonia protest spokesman Clyde Powless stopped by the concert in the afternoon. “It’s good to see this many people gathered at one place,” he said. “It’s wonderful to know everyone’s here supporting us from coast to coast.”
But, said Powless, he would see a different side of the coin when he returned to the protest site for what the natives refer to as “Idiot Night”.
“On Friday nights the people in Caledonia come out to the barricades.”
Police have had to intervene in numerous clashes over the past few weeks when townspeople come to yell and taunt the protesters.
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