Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Brantford and Hamilton are the Car Theft Capitals of Ontario Because ..........

I can recall that when I was a kid, the "local amusement" at what was then called the Caughnawaga Indian Reserve (now Kanawaki) near Montreal was playing "chicken".  This involved "obtaining" a vehicle from some local community, and playing a game where the winner was the one who bailed out last.  The vehicle, complete with sundry occupants from Caughnawaga, would be driven at a high rate of speed toward the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping canal.  Then at the very "last minute" the young males inside would jump out before the car went flying into the canal.  The winner was the one who stayed longest, and jumped out just before the car became air bound.  Great fun.

So actually theft of vehicles for frivolous purposes (not necessarily to be sold on the black market or chopped for parts) is something of which I have been aware for a long time.  Not much different at Six Nations except there is no canal (the old Grand River Navigation Company so called canals were never much more than a ditch anyway).

Statistically it can be shown that today (2013) the Cities of Brantford and Hamilton Ontario have the highest rate of car theft in Ontario, and the biggest contributing factor - some might say Six Nations proximity.

So why do so few people know of "the problem"?  Actually everyone at Six Nations knows what goes on.  It is hard to ignore when one day there is an empty field, and the next day it is "adorned" with the burnt out hulk of what was just a day ago someones pride and joy.  As I have seen things (this needs to be checked via official statistics), the largest number of stolen vehicles to end up on the Rez are full sized GM pickups and SUVs - the vehicles of choice among discerning thieves at Six Nations.  For some reason the problem is quietly swept under the carpet, that is to say the newspapers in the surrounding communities give little attention to these crimes, and the insurance companies keep ponying up for "total loss" claims.  I don't know of any vehicle that was recovered intact from Six Nations and returned to their owner in Hamilton - if they exist, it would be news to me.

Why does this happen at Six Nations and not at say some other rural area such as Burford Township in Brant County?  The answer is surprisingly simple.  The Ontario Provincial Police will give chase if they receive a stolen vehicle report (often correctly surmising that the destination is Six Nations) but will stop dead in their tracks at the Six Nations Reserve boundary.  They know that they are not wanted there, and that it is dangerous (life threatening) to enter Six Nations Territory.  In fact, due to some agreement which I find highly questionable, the OPP is not allowed to go on the Reserve, which last I checked was in the Province of Ontario, but is allowed to police Highway 54 through the northern part of the Reserve - but not along say any sideroad off Highway 54.  It is the Six Nations Police, an undermanned force that has law enforcement jurisdiction at Six Nations - and no other agency.  If a major felony such as murder or rape is committed at Six Nations, this will be tried in Ontario Superior Court, but the apprehension is by Six Nations Police - who in my experience are frequently too "overburdened" to act except when pressured to do so.  Try driving on the Rez around dark and see how aggressively laws pertaining to driving under the influence and speeding will be enforced.  To be fair, I think that they are completely overwhelmed by the task when resources are lacking.

Perhaps a recent example will help to paint a vivid and clear picture of the situation viz a viz car thefts, Six Nations, and law enforcement.  The following example was known to me, but is described in detail by well known reporter, Christie Blatchford, and her article of 11 december 2013 which can be seen in full here.

The theft took place on 7 November 2013 in Ancaster, a wealthy suburb of Hamilton close to the Highaway 403 and 6 access to Six Nations - actually about a 15 minute drive.  So in this instance, a local woman drove to Walmart, leaving her dog in her Cadillac Escalade while she made a few quick purchases.  15 minutes later her car and her dog were gone.  As fortune would have it, the luxury vehicle was fitted with a GPS tracking device and Hamilton Police were able to determine its then location - Caledonia, heading towards the Rez.  Caledonia is outside the jurisdiction of Hamilton Police so the OPP (who do the policing for Haldimand County which includes Caledonia) were contacted.  The OPP soon sighted the vehicle, and the owner thought that this meant that within minutes both her vehicle and dog would be safe and the suspects apprehended.  Alas, the owner did not understand what we who live here do - the OPP will not enter the Reserve.  The dispatcher told the son of the owner that the OPP would not enter the Rez because "it was too dangerous".  They did contact the Six Nations Police - the exact location of the vehicle was known via the satellite tracking device.  It gets worse.  Even the Six Nations Police initially refused to go to retrieve the dog because the area "was too hostile".  As the signal from the GPS device was running low, the owner's son decided he had to enter the Rez to retrieve their dog.  Finally the Six Nations Police agreed to meet with him, and armed with assault rifles, they did safely remove the dog.  The Escalade was deemed to be a "total loss".  As Christie Blatchford said, with complete truth and accuracy, And one more Ontario family has learned the great lesson of Caledonia: You are your own police force.  Ms. Blatchford is referring to the new reality hereabouts, where the OPP have been declawed and defanged in order to become a strange entity called "peacekeepers".  So those who live south of the Grand River in Haldimand County have learned from bitter experience that you need a contingency plan to protect your own family since dialling 911 may be an exercise in futility.  No one has forgotten Sam Gaultieri who was left bruised, bloodied, and permanently brain damaged by thugs from Six Nations.  He was assisting his daughter in renovating her home, unfortunately located close to contested land, and so a "no go" zone for the OPP - and he paid the price.  What is infuriating to those of us who have studied the original records is that the land in question was ceeded in the 1840s, and somehow, perhaps by a selective reading of the surrenders and council minutes, some have come to believe that the land magically still belongs to Six Nations.  It was sold, signed, sealed and delivered over 170 years ago!  The facts are now known to all local Ontario Superior Court Judges, so we will see what happens when the truth is revealed to one and all.  Mr. Gaultieri and so many others who have suffered have done so needlessly.  But I digress.

In one of those odd coincidences, the Blatchford story was highlighted in an article by Lynda Powless in Turtle Island News, December 18, 2013, pp. 2-3, Analysis:  Story of a stolen car, a missing dog and national media anti - Six Nations storm.  I picked up the newspaper only a couple of hours after writing a first draft of the present posting, focusing on the Blatchford article which I had stumbled across while surfing the Internet.  In the Turtle Island News article, Powless expressed indignation that once again, Blatchford was taking a cheap shot at Six Nations without having all the facts at her disposal.  While agreeing with most of the facts as reported by Blatchford (or at least the skeleton or framework of the chronology and so on), Powless reports that Blatchford is merely continuing her theme of bashing the OPP and Six Nations at any opportunity - and having a puppy involved in the story allowed her to obtain more sympathy of the family and the situation they found themselves in.  Surely Ms. Powless knows that the OPP is frozen out at the boundary line of Six Nations.  They cannot and will not cross this line knowingly - there are far too many ramifications.  For example there are jurisdictional issues related to the perceived sovereignty of Six Nations as reflected in a story a week earlier in Turtle Island News where a Six Nations man was stopped by the OPP and issued a speeding ticket - and he maintains that the infraction took place on the Reserve - although that is far from clear.  So the question for him becomes, should I just pay the $50 and be done with it or get a lawyer and go to Court.  Perhaps he will opt for the former as it would be a lot of hassle to go to Court over a $50 matter.

Anyway, I digress, back to the story of the dog and the stolen car which Ms. Powless interprets as an "anti - Six Nations rant" by Ms. Blatchford.  It seems that the vehicle owner wanted to make it clear that she was not blaming Six Nations, only the responses of the various police forces to her call, to the extent that she filed a complaint against both.  As it turns out, according to Ms. Powless, at the time of the stolen vehicle being driven on to the Reserve, the OPP were at the time busy investigating a truck which had gone off the road into a ditch; and the Six Nations Police were investigating a sexual assault.  However there is no disagreement about the location where the tracking system placed the stolen vehicle, it was in a "hostile" area, on property of a person known to Six Nations Police by virtue of his threats against them, and the use of bear spray against one of the officers.  Charming.  Basically Ms. Powless is attempting to dispel any perceptions, as a result of the Blatchford article, that some areas of the Reserve are lawless and dangerous.  Humm, but all of us who live in the area are well aware of the dynamics.  There are places no one should go, especially after dark.  This is true of most communities, so why it would be any different at Six Nations is puzzling.  It all gets a bit more confusing.  Apparently the vehicle, once located, was found to be damaged, but was drivable.  Then once the owner of the vehicle spoke to her insurance they said they would give her $3,000 to compensate for the write off of a $70,000 vehicle.  At that point she apparently became angry with Six Nations police. 

Police Chief Lickers, as reported in the Powless article, then takes exception to the allegation of being abandoned when, he asserts, everything possible was done to address the situation in a timely fashion.  He believes that Ms. Blatchford's article does everything to sensationalise the story (puppy and all) and that the facts are left dangling in the quest to cast aspersions on the Six Nations Police.  Chief Lickers goes on to say that Blatchford failed to seek out information about "the other side of the story", and his interpretation is that, oh wait a minute, then we wouldn't look like the violent, lawless, heathens she portrays us as.  This would seem to be a very questionable comment coming from the Chief of Police of any jurisdiction - and frankly I am very surprised that the head of the Six Nations Police would make a statement that, had it been said in say Toronto, would have resulted in immediate consequences.  Is there a double standard as to what can be said at Six Nations, and what can be said elsewhere by representatives of the Police?  That is a question I will leave to others to answer.  Ms. Powless stated that the National Post, where the Blatchford article appeared, fully supported Blatchford, Believe it or not.

Sometimes I really can't believe what goes on, and is accepted and justified at Six Nations - although this is really nothing new.  In my opinion it may have something to do with the "victim mentality" that is pervasive in certain quarters.

As I continue to read the latest copy of Turtle Island News, I have difficulty in believing that Ms. Powless comment tenaciously in a second format on the same subject (rage against Christie Blatchford) in her editorial on page 5 under the banner, Time for Six Nations to speak up for itself.  Apparently the National Post espouses, very narrow upper middle class Euro-Canadian thinking.  As to Blatchford, she just doesn't get it.  So instead of fetching the truth, she rolls over and fails to look at facts.  Ms. Powless asserts that the real problem is the failure to recognise that at the base of it all is the matter of land - the failure to recognise the true Six Nations claim to land they have been denied.  Neeless to say, I completely disagree with Ms. Powless - in fact, there are no legal outstanding land claims, that is a misconception that is widely believed but has absolutely no basis in fact - as can be seen in any of the half dozen or so postings where I discuss the "Holmes Report", presented to the Corporation of the City of Brantford, and used by Justice Harrison Arrell in recent judgements, on the legitimacy of the land claims.

Back to the matter that is the subject of this posting (although it has been majorly side tracked), the problem of car theft.  It is well recognised at Six Nations, articles in Turtle Island News give updates.  Councillors such as Helen Miller have been particularly proactive in trying to ensure that the problem is addressed.  However it is a very serious and very pervasive problem.  No one denies this.  For an excellent compendium of recent newspaper articles on the subject see here.

So why Six Nations?  For one thing thousands of acres of bush land within a short drive of urban centres, ensconced in an area that is "off limits" to the OPP, and is well known for its hard core car thieves who use the Rez as a "retreat".  It is to a degree something of a game where if you are in say St. Catharines boosting a truck with mag wheels, you just have to make it through whatever impediments there might be (the OPP has a "no car chase" policy in force in the Golden Horseshoe Region - unless there is a huge public safety risk), and if you make it to say 6th Line and reach the Six Nations border - you are safe, although Six Nations Police will likely catch the perpetrators eventually - but for a time, you got away with it and got the cash from the wheels or transmission or just the thrill - although some deadly crashes have ensued, with death and injury from time to time.

In 2007, the year after the "Caledonia crisis" at the Douglas Creek Estates, 578 vehicles were "recovered" (that does not mean intact).  100 car theft charges were laid by Six Nations Police, three quarters of these charges involved Six Nations Community members.  Many of these offences were committed by juveniles where in the Canadian revolving door system, they were soon free to continue with their chosen "career".  It is often maintained that the drug oxycontin (a narcotic pain killer) is somehow connected (e.g., the money obtained by these ill gotten gains being spent on this substance).  Hence substance abuse is at the root of at least some of the problems.  Since Six Nations is the wealthiest Reserve in Canada, it would be hard to play the "poverty card" here.  Alas, this whole behavioural pattern has become a way of life for some at Six Nations.  All very depressing as there is of course no easy answer.  At least their is no discrepancy between the beliefs and the facts in this instance - which is very refreshing.  Acknowledging the nature of the problem is the fist step towards at least mitigating if not entirely solving the problem.


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