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Land claim talks break down

Karen Best - Chronicle Staff Writer
Dunville Chronicle
Local News - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 @ 05:00

[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.]

BRANTFORD -- Negotiations aimed at ending a reclamation of a Caledonia subdivision broke down on Monday.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday by the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, talks ended because federal and provincial representatives refused to address issues outlined by the chiefs.

Since Feb. 28, when natives began a stand off over ownership of Douglas Creek Estates, the Confederacy has endeavoured to find a peaceful resolution.

Days later an injunction ordered the activists off the property. Then a judge found them in contempt of court and later arrest warrants were issued but have yet to be acted on.

In a letter handed off to Michael Coyle on March 27, the chiefs asked that development on the subdivision be ceased until a broader resolution is reached on Six Nations land rights. Coyle was hired by the federal government to search out facts related to the Caledonia situation and to explore the possibility of mediation.

The chiefs also asked that all Crown government agencies to refrain from regarding Six Nations people as criminals in the courts or before police. They wanted back room dealing between the elected band council, Ontario and Canada to cease.

Because negotiations have broken down, the Confederacy chiefs urged federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice to enter into talks with them. “ Canada needs to take this matter seriously,” they stated. Meaningful solutions are required not funding for the elected council or promises of what might be, they concluded.

What might have been and may resurface in future discussions is creation of a new piece of the Six Nations reserve in South Cayuga.

At a meeting held last week in a Brantford hotel, three pieces of Crown land and 30 parcels of unsold surrendered land were put on the table by provincial and federal representatives.

Ownership transfer was to occur if the Six Nations elected and Confederacy councils moved their people out of the Caledonia subdivision.

The land swap, including hundreds of acres in South Cayuga, is not acceptable as part of the solution to the Caledonia situation. “That’s already our land so what kind of a bargaining tool is that,”asked Janie Jamieson, the spokesperson for Six Nations activists.

“I think it’s going to be a bigger mess than they have already,” said Steve Donaldson of establishing a reserve district in South Cayuga. “I think it’s going to be a disaster.”

A resident of South Cayuga, he leased land from the province for five years and in 1988 purchased 124 acres. Acreages east and west of his property are government owned.

In the 1970s, the Ontario government purchased 12,000 acres in South Cayuga to build a city like Bramalea.

The new city was to be part of a booming development related to the new Lake Erie Industrial Park and the proposed city of Townsend.

During the land deals, many people retained ownership of their homes and some acreage surrounding it. Some farmers were given lifelong leases on the land they sold and others paid minimal lease fees. Six Nations elected chief David General has hunted on Ontario Crown land in the proximity of Yaremy Road.

Because the South Cayuga city failed to materialize, the Ontario government’s next move was to propose a hazardous waste processing plant and dump in this area. In 1980, local residents lobbied against it and the proposal was dropped.

Donaldson believed that 90 per cent of the old township is owned by the province. All this property is land locked and cannot be accessed without crossing someone else’s property, he noted.

All county taxpayers would be effected if the swap occurred, noted Mayor Marie Trainer. The deal would lead to a loss in county property tax revenue and result in social issues, she added.

The land offer was made after two days of meetings between Confederacy chiefs, Six Nations elected band council, clan mothers, OPP representatives, developers John and Don Henning, Haldimand County representatives, and Ontario and Canadian government officials.

Along with South Cayuga land, the Ontario government offered the decommissioned Burtch Correctional Facility near Brantford. Buildings from the youth detention centre still stand on the 400 acres which back onto a Brant County dump.The province also offered a significant parcel of land at Edwardsburg.

A Chronicle inquiry to the Ontario Realty Corporation on this provincially owned land was forwarded to the Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs. Because discussions were underway and because this is a tabled offer, secretariat spokesperson Rosemary Sampson said no further information could be released on the land parcels or the three named properties. She was not aware that talks had been called off.

In the draft agreement, the Canadian government also offered funding for governance issues and acceleration of land claim resolution. Haldimand County proposed to retain agricultural zoning between Caledonia and the reserve. Before reading the proposal, Bob Howsam said this is how Ontario and Canada see this moving forward on short and long term issues. He is the director general of the federal Indian Affairs department.

Along with the money handling of Indian agent Samuel Jarvis, the 75 acre Port Maitland claim has advanced to an exploratory stage with the provincial, federal and elected band representatives.

As the War of 1812 was drawing to an end, a naval depot was built in Port Maitland. According to a sign posted on a Six Nations lot at 932 Esplanade, lots 25 and 26 of Concession 4 Dunn were reserved for compensation. The land claim is seeking a monetary award for land used for the town plot and the naval depot.

Last week’s deal required an end to the protest before offers would be fulfilled.

After last Thursday’s meeting, the elected band and Confederacy councils met several times. On April 16, the majority of the elected council agreed to let the Confederacy chiefs take the lead on the Caledonia subdivision issue.

The Ontario government would not agree to a 90 moratorium on construction or to asking the OPP to step aside for 90 days or to compensation for the developers, reported Lisa Van Every in a press release.

The Hennings want the blockade to end because their company’s funds are tied up in the project and the banks may soon call their loans, forcing them into bankruptcy.

If the Ontario government won’t force OPP to enforce the injunction, they expect the province to compensate them at a fair market value. Compensation is the worst case scenario, noted Michael Bruder, the Hennings’ lawyer. “We believe they (OPP) have a legal obligation to act on arrest warrants,” he added.

County police cannot enforce the injunction until they are given permission by the OPP commissioner or the deputy commissioner, said Trainer, who is aware of citizen anger and frustration about lack of police action. To avoid situations like Ipperwash and Oka, the decision to act rests with OPP headquarters, she continued. Unfortunately, this is putting officers under a lot of stress, she noted.

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