Haudenosaunee Chiefs break continuum of development.
It was unprecedented at Six Nations of the Grand River that Confederacy Chiefs stepped onto the front lines of the on-going land dispute along the Haldimand Tract and led supporters on July 7 in Brantford, Ontario.
Approximately 200 Six Nations people travelled to Brantford and their first stop was the site of the Hampton Inn Hotel under construction on Fen Ridge Court in the northwest part of the city. Confederacy Chiefs followed by the supporters walked onto the site and shut down the first of five sites in the increasingly developing city.
Construction workers at the Hampton Inn site requested permission to finish laying brick work before packing up their tools and leaving the site without incident.
The Confederacy Chiefs, sub Chiefs and Bench Warmers posed with the NOTICE that had been posted on the construction gate which refers specifically to prohibiting "persons purporting to act on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute" which is a development monitoring office set up by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council (HCC). "Trespassers will be prosecuted," it reads.
The notice was posted in direct response to by-laws passed and injunctions sought by the city of Brantford in early June to prohibit protests from happening at five specific construction sites in Brantford including the Fen Ridge Court location. At the end of June, the Six Nations Elected Council answered Brantford with its own Declaratory Relief action to force Brantford to consult with the people of Six Nations of the Grand River prior to approving development of any kind within the Haldimand Tract. At this date, the Six Nations Elected Council has yet to sanction the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI). The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council views the by-laws and injunction as unconstitutional as it targets the Haudenosaunee people.
A small presence of Brantford police were present but did not interfere with the delegation. Asked if the small amount of police presence was a strategic decision, one officer answered that there didn't need to be a large police presence for a peaceful people.
The delegation then moved farther along Fen Ridge Court to the site of Kingspan Insulation which is building a warehouse facility and headquarters for their company. The site was entirely fenced and a chain locked the main gate. When requested entrance was denied, the gate was simply lifted from the concrete blocks and the delegation entered the site and made their way to the various machines working where the workers were told to stop. They complied and shut off their machines and eventually, all the workers vacated the site.
The delegation then travelled to west Brantford to two more sites on Diana Street and Conklin Rd. At the Conklin Rd. location, most of the delegation waited on the road while several truckloads of Haudenosaunee men drove back to the workers at the expansive site. Reports delivered to the main entrance confirmed that work had stopped and some of the construction supervisors had locked themselves in the portable trailers.
The Six Nations delegation ended their day-long construction shut down at Birkett's Lane where a demolition crew were tearing down a house and preparing the land for a new housing development. The permit issued by the city of Brantford identified the location as part of the "Eagle's Nest Tract" which has long been known as Six Nations land in Brantford. Workers stopped at this site as well.
The next day, crews began working again at the sites. By Friday, July 11, some people from Six Nations returned to the Kingspan site to ensure work did not resume. They maintained a presence over the weekend and on Monday, July 14, police had closed access to the roadway leading to the site.
A disagreement over cement trucks being allowed to enter the site resulted in a scuffle between an unidentified Six Nations man and the Brantford Police, resulting in his arrest. The man was charged with assaulting police with intent to resist arrest and obstructing a police officer.
Brantford Chief of Police, Derek McElveny issued a news release later in the day.
"We are extremely disappointed that the peace was not kept during the protest today. Community, provincial and federal leaders are encouraged to exert their influence over their respective members to ensure the safety of our community is preserved and these land claim issues are resolved peacefully and expeditiously. The Brantford Police Service should not be perceived to be a solution to these long standing and complex land claim issues."
Six Nations Elected Councillor George Montour was adamant that negotiations need to continue immediately.
"Until the government steps up to the plate, it's going to get worse," he said.
By Lisa VanEvery
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|Title Annotation:||Ontario Birchbark: Special Section providing news from Ontario|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2008|
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