Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Was the Douglas Creek Estates Take Over by the Six Nations a Reclamation or an Illegal Acquisition?

The answer to the above question is, it depends on who you ask.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, I am not sure) I was not present, I was at a College south of Syracuse, and could not take time away in order to find out first hand what was happening in my ancestral homeland.  It was spring break before the opportunity presented itself to come back and see what had transpired.  There was simply a ghastly mess (which remains to this day), and two security guards in a vehicle installed at the power station nearby for 24 hours a day - this "feature" was only removed about a year ago.  It was all very surreal - very hard to process what had happened, but there was the realisation that the wedge between the two communities was driven much deeper.  The only consolation was that my beloved Grand River continue to flow as if nothing had happened.  It was oblivious to the suffering on one side, and the triumph on the other.

As far as the owners of the Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) land from 1992 to 2006, Henco Industries Ltd. were concerned, the work stoppage and eventual take over of the 40 acres of land which is on title in the Haldimand County Land Registry Office can be one thing and one thing only.  It was an illegal move that in any civilised society would have resulted in the land being returned to those who possesses legal title.  End of story, or so one might expect.  That may work in say Kingston, but in Caledonia - no.

As I continue to read documents found on websites maintained by various Six Nations groups, the ultimate goal of the most radical element is to have the entire Grand River watershed returned to them - as absurd as that may sound to some readers.  Take note residents of Waterloo or Guelph, you may become the next "target" - although it is much more difficult logistically to move enough resources that far from the Reserve to effect some sort of action as happened in Caledonia in 2006.  Brantford, well that is another story.  It is close to the present - day Reserve, and there are a large number of small to large claims related to that area.  I am sure that the residents of Caledonia would not wish any owner of what Six Nations has "selected to be" in the category of "disputed land" to be put in the position they were in - but it would likely take some of the heat off Haldimand County.  So, realistically, for the next few years it is the counties of Brant and Haldimand who have to look back at what occurred in Caledonia in 2006 and wonder whether that could happen in their neighbourhood.  Caledonia has lived under the "sword of Damocles" since 2006, and there is absolutely no sign that things will change.  It seems that the owner of the McKenzie Meadows property realised what was in store for their group, so they negotiated a deal (where money changes hands) to have a better chance at developing their property.  A problem may be, however, that some of the more intransigent radicals at Six Nations may not honour the deal made by the Six Nations Elected Chiefs, and "Caledonia 2014" may be in the offing.

So once again, many if not most at Six Nations, despite multiple rulings from multiple Federal and Provincial Courts, as well as the Federal Government, will not nor will they likely ever, honour the various deeds of surrender signed by their ancestors in the years between 1841 to 1848.  Somehow, despite the clearest possible wording, the belief still stands that these lands were never alienated and so any take over of lands within the Haldimand Tract, particularly those on which homes have not already been constructed, is justifiable.

So the bottom line is that the Federal Government of Canada and Provincial Government of Canada, as well as the municipal officials in Haldimand County all realise that the take over of the DCE property was an illegal act, and the DCE property was an illegal acquisition.  However, the matter is considered "sensitive", and there is a wish not to ruffle feathers in the matter, so better just quietly have the Province of Ontario purchase the land and quietly negotiate a deal with Six Nations as to what to do with the land.  Why can the land not simply be turned back to the legal owner?  Because it carries too much baggage.  It is an albatross, so will be used as a sacrificial lamb to appease the radicals at Six Nations and their noisy communist - inspired White supporters.  I agree, despite what is right and just, it is a tainted piece of land.  It will likely never be developed as a housing site.  Who knows what will become of it.  Perhaps the Province will just sit on it as they have done with the thousands of acres purchased in South Cayuga in the 1970s - land that is ripe for becoming a wind generator farm.  Will the DCE then ever become the site of this sort of "green" (actually anything but) initiative?  Perhaps, but in my opinion only a solar panel "farm" would be acceptable since wind generators are ugly monstrosities that no one at Six Nations or Caledonia wants in their back yard.

The perspective of the Six Nations involved with the "reclamation" of the DCE lands will argue that these are their lands, unceded "Plank Road" (Claim 5) lands.  So that the taking of what is by law private property, is to the Six Nations an almost sacred act of reclaiming what is and always has been, theirs.   The local press promulgated the view that this was rightful land, that the OPP were using brutal tactics in the attempt to arrest law breakers and that joining the "fight" was necessary to protect the Community.  See the publication, Douglas Creek Reclamation: A Pictorial History, Turtle Island News, Ohsweken, 2007.  A copy of this publication can be ordered via their website at  It provides, in addition to a very detailed pictoral record, a rationale as to why this action was right and just, and an overview of other related injustices.

By giving the property a name to reflect its landmark history, Kanonhstaton, and talking about seeing the ghostly shapes of ancestors and hearing the sound of horses hooves, they have sealed the fate of this land parcel, and made it sacred.  I just can't see someone on the Government side who will emerges with the gumption to use the laws of Canada to force the issue.  I don't think this is going to happen.  Might as well bid farewell to DCE, and accept what the sign at the entrance says, "Welcome to Six Nations".  Whether it is truly just, or not is immaterial.  Those who were there now feel the place is special.  It is where the Six Nations came together in unprecedented numbers with a "we won't take it any longer" attitude.  The old chestnut of 1924, when many believe that the Canadian Government unilaterally forced the switch from a hereditary system of governance to and elected system that fit with Canadian values, has been brought up as a justification.  In many cases it does not matter what the truth is, perception is reality and old beliefs and old sores always lurking beneath the surface came to a head - and there is no going back.  This is one of the very few instances where almost the entire community came together as one, and where the perennial problem of factionalism vanished as the morning mists before the sun.


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