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Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us [Paperback]

Christie Blatchford
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 26 2011

It officially began on February 28, 2006, when a handful of protesters from the nearby Six Nations reserve walked onto Douglas Creek Estates, then a residential subdivision under construction, and blocked workers from entering. Over the course of the spring and summer of that first year, the criminal actions of the occupiers included throwing a vehicle over an overpass, the burning down of a hydro transformer which caused a three-day blackout, the torching of a bridge and the hijacking of a police vehicle. During the very worst period, ordinary residents living near the site had to pass through native barricades, show native-issued "passports", and were occasionally threatened with body searches and routinely subjected to threats. Much of this lawless conduct occurred under the noses of the Ontario Provincial Police, who, often against their own best instincts, stood by and watched: They too had been intimidated. Arrests, where they were made, weren't made contemporaneously, but weeks or monthlater. The result was to embolden the occupiers and render non-native citizens vulnerable and afraid. Eighteen months after the occupation began, a home builder named Sam Gualtieri, working on the house he was giving his daughter as a wedding present, was attacked by protesters and beaten so badly he will never fully recover from his injuries. The occupation is now in its fifth year. Throughout, Christie Blatchford has been observing, interviewing, and investigating with the tenacity that has made her both the doyen of Canadian crime reporters and a social commentator beloved for her uncompromising sense of right and wrong.
In Helpless she tells the full story for the first time - a story that no part of the press or media in Canada has been prepared to tackle with the unflinching objectivity that Christie Blatchford displays on every page. This is a book whose many revelations, never before reported, will shock and appall. But the last word should go to the author:
"This book is not about aboriginal land claims. The book is not about the wholesale removal of seven generations of indigenous youngsters from their reserves and families - this was by dint of federal government policy - or the abuse dished out to many of them at the residential schools into which they were arbitrarily placed or the devastating effects that haunt so many today. This book is not about the dubious merits of the reserve system which may better serve those who wish to see native people fail than those who want desperately for them to succeed. I do not in any way make light of these issues, and they are one way or another in the background of everything that occurred in Caledonia.
"What Helpless is about is the failure of government to govern and to protect all its citizens equally."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description


Praise for Fifteen Days:
"Learned more about the performance of our soldiers from reading Blatchford's book than I did from being on the ground for short stays... Bravo Zulu, Christie Blatchford."
— Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret'd) in The Globe and Mail

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD has been a high-profile Canadian journalist for over 25 years, with columns covering sports, lifestyle, current affairs, and crime. She started working for The Globe and Mail in 1972 while still studying at Ryerson, and has since worked for the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post. She returned to The Globe and Mail in 2002. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column writing.

From the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true Oct. 30 2010
The book is a detailed blow by blow account of the Caledonia occupation, recounted by those directly involved. It is in effect a compilation of interviews etc the author accumulated while talking with virtually every person who had something to say about the various events. However, there is little discussion with the natives to give any depth to the story.

The book is really about the hardships faced by the Caledonians at the hands of both the occupiers and the OPP. It is very damning of the OPP, the OPP leadership, Mr. Fantino, and all the other Government officials involved in deciding what was to take place in Caledonia.

The book recounts how the OPP planted cameras in the house of one Caledonia residence to surveil the owner. Also, there was an incidence of planting a GPS locator on an officer's personal vehicle. The officer was personal friends with one of the central homeowners and was in the difficult position of having to do his job, while also act as a friend and counsel. This role was exploited by the OPP to their advantage.

Reading it, you can't help but think of those poor souls living in occupied Europe during the war, the KGB, the SS. The OPP broke nearly every law you can think of, while refusing to serve or protect people who badly needed their help.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Back Memories Nov. 22 2010
By macgrad
As a former resident of Caledonia during the occupation, this book brings back memories. For years we tried to get anyone to listen to what was happening in our town. The OPP abandoned us in so many ways. The book was very moving and I had to put it down several times as it stirred bad memories. It was a book that needed to be written, and I thank Christie Blatchford for taking the time to write it in a respectful way. I can't believe that people are calling this book racist. These people have clearly not read the book, and certainly did not live in Caledonia during those difficult times.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This book was so well written that I completed it in two (2) days.

It reflected the struggles of the people of Caledonia, Ontario (small town near Hamilton) where the natives of Six Nations took over a construction site and the police (OPP) turned a blind eye to their illegal actions. The Caledonia townspeople living around the construction site were constantly harassed and threatened but the OPP would not give any assistance. Even when there was a blockade, the OPP faced the townspeople rather than the natives.

There was anecdote where the home owner came home from a ball game but the natives would not let him pass their lines. Apparently, he missed a native curfew. Anyway, he got quite upset and drove past their line to his home and then was surrounded by a group of native who forced him into a vehicle and transported him back to the OPP line where he was arrested and spent the night in jail. The victim were arrested and the illegal action was condoned.

There a sections of humour in this book but also segments where one would have a hard time believing that this could happen today in Canada.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpless Nov. 26 2010
By Fin
Excellent book. Well researched and revealing. Every person in Canada who suffers under the illusion that we live in a stable society needs to read this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This explains so much! Dec 18 2010
By Vicki J
As disturbing as the facts are, it is good to be informed. So much of what Christie Blatchford reveals was unknown to me and this comes from someone who lived in the middle of it. It amazes me that the very people we trust to take care of our community and protect us from wrongdoings are failing us in ways I never dreamed possible in Canada!
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Nov. 6 2010
Helpless is a very useful summary and analysis of the years of terror that innocent common citizens lived through in Caledonia. The story of Caledonia is an example of what happens when the rule of law breaks down due to two systems of justice for different groups of people, and political correctness binding the law. Numerous interviews with those involved portray the McGuinty Government, its deputy ministers, and the upper echelon of the OPP in a incompetent and negligent light.

No doubt the results of the events at Ipperwash set up the massive failure that occured in Caledonia. However Ipperwash was a battle over land the Native people legitimately owned. The housing development in Caledonia was clearly private property. Blatchford illudes to this being the case, but her main thesis is more directed towards what happens when the Government fails it's citizens and the Police are controlled by the interests of the governing party rather than the interests of the law. This she sets out in interviews and researching news reports in the plain straight of fact manner she is well known for rather than injecting her own opinion or analysis.

One of the most damning quotes from the book is from an interview. "... in the early days the residents [of Caledonia] never spoke to the media. Refused. They believed the media twisted their words, so they would always paint the residents as the ones inciting the violence, and once their names and photos were printed, they become targeted or their kids would targeted at school."

Unfortunately Blatchford did not interview many native people, and it would have been interesting to hear their side or them answer to what they did to innocent people.

Christie Blatchford is one of the few Canadian reporters willing to put herself on the line, and for that matter one of the few worth reading.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Christie Blatchford at her finest. This book will shock you!
There are only two books written about the atrocities committed in Caledonia between 2006 and 2013. The Ontario Liberals under McGuinty and the mainstream media managed to keep the... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Painter
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-Opening!
A chilling indictment of the Ontario Provincial Police and all parties involved in land settlement negotiations with the First Nations.
Published 1 month ago by Raymond E. Jonasson
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for any freedom-loving Canadian
I regret that it took this long for me to read Ms. Blatchford's excellent book, Helpless.

The tales of the residents of Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia are so... Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. Hennig
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpless Tells It All
Christie Blatchford's book titled "Helpless" was excellently researched, documented and written. Basically, the book clearly illustrates how the Ontario Provincial Government and... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2011 by Michael P. Maciuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking
This book by Christie Blatchford should be read by every person in Ontario. It is a shocking and I believe accurate account of what happened in the Caledonia occcupation by Six... Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2011 by colleen dodds
1.0 out of 5 stars One Sided, Ill-Informed Twaddle
If what you want is a one-sided, ill-researched, and misguided view of what happened in Caledonia then this book is for you. This book is such a right-wing, racist farce. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2011 by Jeremy Morrow
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the naysayers - this is a good book that is worth reading
Imagine you live in a lovely small town - close enough to the big city to be convenient, but far enough away to be a quiet country hideaway. Read more
Published on March 21 2011 by Stewart Kiff
1.0 out of 5 stars Misguided and misleading an understatement!
Christie Blatchford's book has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. For someone that was involved and has family & friends on both sides of the issue, I feel that her "research"... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2011 by debwewin
1.0 out of 5 stars Hopeless: A Study of Biased Opinion
Blatchford is well-known for her biased opinion on all issues Aboriginal. She consistently fails to consult the views of Aboriginal people into consideration in her articles,... Read more
Published on Dec 18 2010 by John L. Steckley
4.0 out of 5 stars too nice
As a constant "Blach" reader and fan,I was disappointed at the change in her writing from the opinion laced and objective to the history book like facts. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2010 by Sad
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