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City rejects playing host to meeting; Lack of native representation cited as concern

Michael-Allan Marion
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Thursday, June 15, 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.]

Brantford has begged off playing official host to a meeting in the city today of top-level civic administrators from seven municipalities in the Grand River watershed to talk about notification issues concerning development.

City council declined an invitation from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs last week to play host out of concerns that Six Nations officials weren't being included in the gathering.

Instead, the ministry will host the meeting, billed as a "provincial-municipal-First Nations workshop," in a Laurier Brantford building.

Ministry spokesman Scott McLeod confirmed Wednesday that the meeting will be attended by seven municipalities - Haldimand, Brant County, Brantford, Waterloo, Kitchener, Waterloo Region and Norfolk County - along with the Grand River Conservation Authority.

MacLeod said he had been informed of city council's refusal to accept the host invitation, but hadn't yet seen anything formal.

He also said that an arrangement has been made that an archeological consultant who has years of experience dealing with native issues will be bringing someone from Six Nations to the meeting, but he didn't know who that would be.

Brant MPP Dave Levac, who is playing a behind-the-scenes role in the ongoing Caledonia land claims dispute, said today's get-together is meant to be an exploratory, educational meeting.

"We want to be proactive to assist municipalities in understanding land issues in the Haldimand Tract (the area of six miles on either side of the Grand River that was original given to Six Nations)," he said.

"I understand the concerns of city councillors, but I can assure you the meeting is not to create more friction but to open the doors."

Notification of parties in the Grand watershed concerning development and land-use proposals are important concerns in matters concerning native issues.

The occupation, which natives call a "land reclamation," at the Douglas Creek Estates development in Caledonia began over a dispute concerning Confederacy claims of not being properly notified or consulted.

A Confederacy member has also recently launched an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board over Brantford council's approval of a major power centre at Wayne Gretzky Parkway and Henry Street. Again, the main grounds for appeal are an alleged failure by the developer and the city to notify the Confederacy about the development application.

Last week, city councillors were called to a special closed-door meeting, where they were informed by CAO John Brown that he had received a call asking the city to host a meeting that would be attended only by CAOs and top planning officials from Grand River municipalities. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss regulations and issues concerning notification of interested municipalities and other organizations concerning development in the watershed.

Council passed a resolution saying the city would not agree to play host but wouldn't object to the meeting being held in Brantford.

Over the past two days, several councillors have been stating openly why they didn't want Brantford to host the meeting.

"The way it was presented to us, the whole approach bothered me because it looked like we were all gathering the wagons in a circle against the natives," said Coun. Richard Carpenter.

"Ohsweken is a community along the Grand and we should want to hear from them. They're our immediate neighbours. To have a meeting without them would be like me inviting all the neighbours on my block to talk about my next-door neighbour without him being present.

"I didn't want us to jeopardize our good relationship with Six Nations."

Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith also didn't like what she heard.

"If the focus is on land, notification and development, I don't know why we wouldn't invite our neighbours at Six Nations," she said Wednesday.

"The Confederacy and the elected council should be at the table. If I was them I'd be upset. We're all members of the Grand River family. We all share the same space. We need to hear all the perspectives."

Mayor Mike Hancock said he was "taken aback" at the request.

"There was a big question mark then as to the purpose of the meeting, and there still is," he said.

But Brantford should be willing to do anything it can, he added, to facilitate solutions to issues concerning its neighbours.

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