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Native protesters up ante with picket outside casino

Susan Gamble - Expositor Staff
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Thursday, June 01, 2006 @ 01:00

[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.]

A group of natives waved warrior flags Wednesday at the city's charity casino as a reminder that Six Nations considers that gambling hall to be on its land.

The two-hour information protest was polite and clear: the casino sits on native land, according to the protesters.

“We’re here today to support our delegates at the table,” said protest spokeswoman Hazel Hill.

Hill is referring to ongoing discussions arising from the native occupation of of a housing development in Caledonia.

Negotiators Barbara McDougall, for the federal government, and Jane Stewart, for the province, were back at the negotiating table Wednesday with representatives of protesters, the Six Nations Confederacy and the band council, plus other interested parties.

And while progress seems to be part of the meetings -- such as the Burtch lands, the use of which was turned over to Six Nations on May 17 -- the protesters said they want to keep a certain amount of pressure on.

An information sheet handed out to gamblers driving in and out of the casino said the event was a peaceful demonstration “to remind her Majesty’s servants within the federal and provincial government that the time has come to respectfully, honestly and faithfully deal with the centuries old theft of our land.”

A provincial government spokesperson said the protest didn’t disrupt normal operations at the casino and was peaceful.

Anne-Marie Flanagan in the office of Native Affairs Minister David Ramsay didn’t want to say anything that would interfere with the discussions going on Wednesday but said the land is the subject of a current claim for compensation.

“The casino isn’t on reserve land,” she said.

Angus Toulouse, the regional chief of the Chiefs of Ontario, issued a news release saying the peaceful action was necessary because the provincial negotiators were reneging on some points that had already been agreed to during negotiations.

“It is unfortunate and frustrating that this approach is the one that the government is choosing to employ,” said Toulouse. “Have they not learned from their past mistakes? Clearly, this approach is not conducive to negotiating in good faith.”

Wednesday's action in Brantford comes on the heels of a Six Nations Confederacy delegation attending last week's meeting of Brant County's committee of adjustment, asking that four planning matters be delayed to allow time for Six Nations to provide input. The leader of the delegation, Confederacy Chief Arnie General, said in an interview this week said Six Nations is the rightful owner of Brant County lands that lie within six miles of the Grand River.

Meanwhile, in Caledonia, the occupation of Douglas Creek Estates housing development is entering its fourth month.

Protesters say Six Nations never surrendered the land, but Canada and Ontario say it was sold in 1841.

One blockade on Caledonia's main street came down late last month, but two other blockades are still up.

Today, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Marshall is holding a special session in Cayuga to determine why the provincial police haven't enforced his order to end the aboriginal occupation and lift the remaining barricades.

Marshall has ordered the provincial police, the Attorney General of Ontario, First Nations leaders, the developers and other parties to the session.

Developer Henco Industries Limited obtained an order in March to evict aboriginal protesters from Douglas Creek Estates. Railink Canada Ltd. obtained a separate injunction from Marshall on May 4.

In addition to the OPP Commissioner and the Attorney General, Marshall has summoned lawyers for the developers, Railink Canada Ltd., the County of Haldimand and the Haldimand Law Society.

He has also called on the Six Nations elected band council and the traditional confederacy chiefs to appear.

The judge noted, however, that the confederacy has not responded to the jurisdiction of the court.

This isn’t the first time Six Nations has reminded Brantford of its claim on the casino land.

In 1995, a claim was filed that includes the property along the river. As the casino opened in 1999, the Six Nations again raised concerns about the land claim.

Historically, the land was part of the original Haldimand Proclamation.

In 1823, the principal chiefs of Six Nations leased out the land for a grist mill and the lease, or interest in the property was sold to others. Six Nations agreed in 1830 to sell the land for certain payments but say no payments were ever made to their trust accounts.

“Six Nations can substantiate that ... the Crown breached its fiduciary and treaty obligations to the Six Nations,” says a document that lists the history of the land.

Today, the casino attracts an average of 4,000 visitors a day, generating nearly a million dollars a year for the city of Brantford and millions more for the province.

It isn’t the first time Six Nations protesters have picketed or taken over property in Brantford to make their point.

Hill noted that over the last 10 years protesters have tried to get their message across by standing on the Glebe Lands behind Pauline Johnson Collegiate, at the Eagle’s Nest business complex in Eagle Place and on property that was designated for a sewer pipeline under the Grand.

“Even Sobey’s," Hill said pointing across the street from the casino to the Price Choppers grocery store, "was notified for five years that they were building on the unceded territory of Six Nations.

“This is just educational.”

With files from Canadian Press

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