An Indigenous journalist is one of 17 people arrested by Ontario Provincial Police during the 49 days of a land dispute protest in Caledonia.
Karl Dockstader, the co-host of ‘One Dish, One Mic’ on the Bell Media station Newstalk 610, spent six days camping at McKenzie Meadows for a story he was working on.
“That’s an important part of Indigenous storytelling tradition,” he said.
Dockstader left the site last Saturday and received an email from the OPP on Tuesday.
“They let me know when I called back that they were intending to charge me,” he said.
There is currently a court injunction ordering everyone to stay off the land.
Dockstader says he explained that he was a member of the media and thought the issue would end after he did so.
He was then arrested and charged with mischief and disobeying a court order.
Dockstader was released on conditions that include being banned from the property.
“I can’t even cover the story now without risking more charges,” he said. “To me that’s so troubling.”
OPP were unavailable for an interview with CTV News on Saturday.
They say in an email that they are committed to the freedom of the press, but journalists who stray beyond their reporting role are subject to arrest.
“Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour have not been able to inform the news with proper perspectives for the entirety of my life and long before then,” said Dockstader.
Ryerson University researcher Courtney Skye was also charged after bringing soup to the encampment Thursday before later meeting with her aunt near the Grand River.
“To be criminalized on the shores of the river that my ancestors were killed to be able to access, it’s very frustrating,” the Yellowhead Institute researcher said.
Skye adds that the arrested hinders her research on land claim issues.
“We’re not able to protest or attend any other protest as well,” she said.
The OPP say the 17 arrests have been made since Aug. 5.
Protestor Skyler Williams says arresting people who are members of the media is silencing the stories of their peaceful protest.
“Indigenous people sitting around the fire telling stories and singing songs and enjoying each other’s company isn’t as sexy as the tire fires and the road blockades,” he said.
Williams adds that they will remain on the land and occupy their traditional territory for as long as it takes.