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Tough task ahead

Former Indian Affairs Minister represents Ontario in land claims

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
May 5, 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.]

Jane Stewart has no doubt she's walking into one of the most challenging tasks of her career.

The former Brant Liberal MP and Indian Affairs Minister has signed on to be Ontario's representative to help resolve more than two dozen longstanding Six Nations land claims.

But Stewart, the daughter of former Ontario Liberal leader and provincial treasurer Bob Nixon, believes there's a willingness by all parties to find a resolution to the claims and put them to rest once and for all.

"It really will be a challenge," she told The Spectator yesterday in an interview from her family's farm near St. George, a small village in Brant County.

"But my sense is that all parties are anxious to come to the table and work towards a resolution....I anticipate there will be goodwill all the way round to focus on all aspects and focus on progress that makes sense to all of the parties."

Stewart, who recently served as chief of staff to interim Liberal leader Bill Graham in Ottawa, was approached about becoming Ontario's representative on the special panel last weekend by Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Ramsay.

Ottawa has appointed former Tory External Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall as its member to the panel, which will also include representatives from the Six Nations Confederacy, the traditional government.

The panel was created from talks between Queen's Park, Ottawa and the Confederacy over a native occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates housing project in Caledonia, which is now entering its third month. A failed OPP raid on the site April 20 led natives and supporters to block two roads through town and burn down an old wooden bridge over a rail line. Operations on the line, which serves the Nanticoke industrial area, have ceased.

Members of the panel, which have their first meeting Tuesday, will have their work cut out for them. Many of the claims involve huge tracts of land in Haldimand County, including the former townships of Canborough, Moulton and Oneida. Twenty-nine claims have been filed with Ottawa by Six Nations between 1980 and 1995 and only one was settled, in 1985 involving the confiscation of land near Caledonia to build the rail line between Hamilton and Port Dover. The claims all stem from the band's rights to the land in the Haldimand Tract. The tract, 9.6 kilometres on each side of the Grand River, was given to Six Nations in 1784 for its services to the British Crown during the American War of Independence.

Stewart, a MP from 1993 to 2004, said no time frame has been attached to settling the claims, but cited a "dedicated commitment" from both governments.

"They want to dog this one," Stewart said. "I think there's an increasing awareness these claims are true and legitimate claims and there's work that has to be done by both levels of government in consultation with Six Nations."

She said it's too early to say if land could be returned to Six Nations. "I think it's too early to presume what the outcome will be. We'll get a work plan going, look for common ground and work through the issues in a methodical fashion."

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