Six Nations Solidarity

News | Background | What you can do | Links 

Developers upset at slow pace of land talks

Barb McKay, Marissa Nelson, and Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
BRANTFORD - April 15, 2006

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

A lawyer for the Douglas Creek Estates developers says his clients are working to get the federal and provincial governments to return to talks this weekend in hopes of ending a six-week-long native land dispute.

Michael Bruder said Don and John Henning, owners of Henco Industries, which has been developing a parcel of land in Caledonia now occupied by Six Nations protesters, are growing increasingly frustrated over the negotiations between the governments and the Six Nations band council that seem to be going nowhere. The two sides met at the Best Western in Brantford Thursday to try to reach an agreement, but at the end of the day discussions where put on hold for the weekend.

"We're waiting, but nothing is happening," Bruder said.

The governments have offered a couple of solutions for the developers, including compensation for short-term losses, but Bruder says it isn't enough. He said developers have suffered a loss in the value of the subdivision, but that is nearly impossible to calculate. As well, contractors and builders need to be compensated. The governments want figures, but Henco's office is on the development site, currently barricaded by native protesters, and all its corporate documents are locked inside.

Bruder said the Henning brothers would sell the property to the government for the right price to compensate Six Nations natives, but their first option would be to go back in and finish building and selling houses. But as the native occupation drags on they may be left with no other choice.

"As time goes on, it becomes attractive to just say (to the government), 'Buy the land and you deal with it for the next four months,'" Bruder said. "That's not good for the community, but at that point I don't know what else we can do."

But Six Nations protesters have already shunned the idea. They refuse to be bought by the federal and provincial governments. Janie Jamieson, spokesperson for the natives occupying the site, said the Six Nations people want the land, not the money.

"This land is not for sale," she said. "It's not their land to sell."

At the same time, Jamieson is hopeful the negotiations will bring about a peaceful solution.

The proposal makes several suggestions, but all are contingent on the native protesters leaving the subdivision that they've occupied since Feb. 28.

The proposal includes:

The proposal is enticing, but protesters feel it is still lacking.

Jamieson said native people are frustrated that the discussions only involve talking heads, including elected Six Nations Chief David General.

"He is not representative of our community," Jamieson said.

However, General said the negotiations need to focus on the land claims and the main issue still remains the safety of the people behind the lines.

"The people are committed to wanting the land back and are willing to stay as long as they have to," he said.

Indian Affairs representative Bob Howsam stressed the need for caution and sensitivity while moving forward. "We're dealing with a ... volatile situation so we need to be flexible in how we solve this situation."

That flexibility means talking with hereditary leaders, not just elected ones.

He said the federal government does not see buying out the developers as a solution.

"We feel we've made a constructive offer on a whole bunch of issues," he said. "Our fervent hope is the blockade comes to an end."

General said it may be best if the council stepped aside and let the hereditary leaders handle it, but that it wasn't that easy.

"That's one of the discussion items," he admitted.

The hereditary chiefs said they would consult the people before drawing any conclusions, but are frustrated because Ottawa hasn't addressed a letter -- a proposal of sorts -- they handed over late last month.

"The blockade will stay there," said Allen MacNaughton, the Mohawk chief and part of the confederacy of hereditary chiefs.

He said Thursday's proposal was a small indication the government was listening, but he was disappointed it didn't deal with any of the short-term issues in Caledonia.

"They're dealing with long-term things, but not what's in front of them," he said.

"... I had hoped for a moratorium on that piece of land (the Douglas Creek Estates)."

Meanwhile, residents of Caledonia are growing increasingly impatient with the occupation. While some are empathetic to the cause, they wonder why a solution hasn't been found.

"It's difficult," said Derek Dias, a resident of Caledonia. "What was the original transaction of land? Shouldn't there be a paper trail? If the land is theirs they should have it."

His wife, Kim, believes Canada already purchased the land from the natives and shouldn't have to do it a second time.

"I don't really have a position either way," she said. "I just want to make sure the right thing is done in the end. The people who have really lost in this are the people who have bought property there."

BackBack to updates

Top Top