Six Nations Solidarity

News | Background | What you can do | Links 

Six Nations land talks buoy Ontario minister

'Goodwill' created, province says, in bid to defuse dispute

Karen Howlett
Globe & Mail
Posted on 24 April 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.]

Ontario cabinet minister David Ramsay says he is confident a dispute over a tract of land adjoining the Six Nations reserve can be resolved peacefully in the wake of marathon talks this weekend.

Mr. Ramsay, the Natural Resources Minister, who is also responsible for aboriginal affairs, said that negotiators representing the Six Nations and the federal and provincial governments are much closer to resolving the dispute than they were a few days ago.

"We've managed to generate some goodwill on all sides," he said yesterday. "We agree that we do want to settle this peacefully and we want to come to a successful conclusion."

Negotiators met for a 19-hour session beginning on Friday morning and then again on Saturday at a Burlington hotel under a news blackout. In a news release after the meetings, negotiators said that they signed a draft agreement, pledging to have each party appoint a representative within two weeks who will come up with a road map on how to resolve the dispute.

Aboriginal members planned to meet last night in the hopes of ratifying the agreement.

Mr. Ramsay conceded that he is making much more of an effort to keep abreast of developments in the long-simmering dispute after last week's standoff between native protesters and police.

"This is my No. 1 file," he said, adding that staff in his ministry are working around-the-clock on the matter. Dozens of government officials in other ministries and in the Premier's Office are also involved, he said.

However, he said, the Six Nations community has made it clear that the primary party they want to deal with is the federal government. To that end, Mr. Ramsay planned to meet with Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice this morning in Ottawa.

Officials in Mr. Prentice's office have portrayed the conflict as a provincial matter. But last Friday, the minister said that the federal government has been monitoring the situation and sent in a fact-finder a month ago.

The land dispute became a top priority for Premier Dalton McGuinty's government after the Ontario Provincial Police raided a construction site in Caledonia, south of Hamilton, that had been occupied by native protesters since Feb. 28. The predawn raid last Thursday ended with more than 200 people from the Six Nations Reserve regaining control of the land.

Don and John Henning, the brothers whose company is trying to build a subdivision on the land, have sat back helplessly throughout the dispute.

In a statement yesterday, they said one of the options negotiators are discussing is purchasing their land. "While we want to continue with our subdivision project, we are willing to consider other options to end the standoff," they said.

The brothers sought a court order March 28 to remove the protesters. Yesterday, they stressed that they cannot afford a long negotiating process. "We strongly urge the province to provide us with immediate interim funding so that we can honour our financial commitments and avoid bankruptcy," they said.

The McGuinty government is facing questions of leadership over its hands-off approach in the land dispute, which has been simmering for more than a year, and criticism that it has not learned anything from what happened at Ipperwash Provincial Park a decade ago, when a police bullet killed native protester Dudley George.

Toby Barrett, a Progressive Conservative MPP whose riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant includes the subdivision project, said the confrontation between natives and the police can be blamed on the provincial government's failure to take a more proactive role.

"There was obviously a vacuum of leadership," he said in an interview on Friday. "One level of government was bouncing the ping-pong ball over to the other side."

BackBack to updates

Back Top