Saturday, 26 April 2014

Six Nations Complaints of Dumping Garbage at Former Douglas Creek Estates: Invalid Land Ownershp Beliefs and Possible Hypocracy

Background to the Douglas Creek Estates Controversy:  On 28 February 2006 the approximately 40 acre housing development known as Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) in the southern tier of Caledonia was "reclaimed" by Six Nations.  There are irrefutable facts that the land was on title in the Ontario Land Registry system (the deeds going back in sequence all the way to the Crown grant are in Cayuga), and that the land was ceded by the Six Nations Chiefs in Council in 1844, and ratified by 66 Chiefs in Council in 1845.  However in the 1980s the Elected Council decided to contest what the ancestors had done based on whatever perceived irregularity could be found - there were bound to be some because few record collections from 150 years ago will be without missing documents.  So the land claims researcher was able to come up with 29 claims which were filed with the Federal Government.  The objective here was to use Canada's legal system to create a list of "contested" lands, in the expectation that some sort of settlement, involving land or money would eventuate.

The Lands and Resources Department of the Six Nations Elected Council had decreed that DCE was the subject of a land claim and was therefore "contested" land.  Negotiations between Six Nations and the Federal Government for return of land ran into the brick wall of evidence.  The Federal Government maintains that the land was properly ceded in 1844, and that the Ontario Land Registry system pertaining to this property is valid.  The claim for the return of the land was abandoned in 1995, and the focus from that point was on monetary compensation for Trust Fund irregularities and similar fiscal issues such as investments in the Grand River Navigation Company.  However on the Lands and Resources website the original 29 land claims are still visible, and the reader could be easily led to believe that these properties were still on the table.  Lands and Resources does not seem to have done anything to clarify the present status (that the focus is on monetary compensation), and many believed that Six Nations "owned" Caledonia - something I have heard at meetings time and time again - and no one has ever stood up to clarify the matter.  The Federal Government has also not been sufficiently open about the facts, leaving open the door for people to make assumptions and act upon them.  Thus people who had not read the Council Minutes from the 1840s (local copies are in locked cabinets at Lands and Resources but require a Band Council Resolution to view - at least that was the case when I checked 20 or so years ago) would be subject to being led down a false path.

Facts, evidence and the truth do not mean much in some quarters - beliefs rule.  The property was occupied by those who were "believers", and asserted that the land belonged to Six Nations.  The Ontario Provincial Police botched a raid designed to address a Court Order from the Ontario Superior Court in Cayuga, to remove the protesters (trespassers).  Six Nations members executed a violent take over of the property, "expelled" the OPP, and declared the land to be theirs, giving the property a new name, Kanonhstaton ("The Protected Place").

Debris and Trash Accumulate Deposited by Six Nations During the Takeover and Subsequent Events:  In the process of the "reclamation" many scars were left on the landscape.  What is worse is that the Six Nations involved deliberately created those unsightly monstrosities, and appear to take pride in keeping everything intact - 8 years later.  Eight years of driving by the hideously unsightly southern entrance to Caledonia.  The same 53 foot burned out transport trailer.  The same twisted barricades made of stolen Hydro One towers, and bedecked with Confederacy and Mohawk Warrior flags flank the entrance way.  The word "unsightly" does not quite do justice to what one sees.

Sachem photo by Jennifer Vo

Later in 2006, when desperation had set in on the part of the Province of Ontario, they provided compensation for the many citizens impacted by the physical and psychological violence, and purchased the land from the developers.  At the time the Hydro One tower was placed across Argyll Street and, oddly, instead of bringing in the SWAT team or the army and heavy equipment, the decision was to capitulate to terrorism.  The government even made the deal more enticing - basically, "if you remove the barricades, we will give you the former Burtch Correctional Centre" (in the "contested" Burtch Tract).  Lots of candy, and apparently low expectations on what Six Nations (the perpetrators in this situation) would do in return.  Apparently good will was not part of the mix.  Residents expected that the Six Nations would have enough pride to clean up the mess they had made along Argyll Street.  It was my understanding that the barricades and associated debris would be taken away.  It is not an unreasonable expectation.  It is 8 years later and the site has not changed - it is still a disgusting mess.  Since Six Nations apparently believe that the land is now theirs, and have given the property a special name, there is no reason to let the whole place "go to seed", and fall into a state of decay.  It seems to the present author that the Hereditary Council (who negotiated the deal) have shirked their responsibility.  It would have taken very little effort to organize a clean up campaign - after all, within a very short time every imaginable piece of heavy equipment was on site to destroy Argyll Street and the local infrastructure in the vicinity - so fixing the mess .............

Local residents had for years pleaded with Six Nations leaders to address the eyesore that was a painful reminder of the bad days of 2006.  No response.  No one seemed to care.

Complaints by Six Nations that Caledonia Residents were Dumping Garbage at DCE:  In "Turtle Island News", April 16, 2014, p.7 is an article entitled, "Kanonhstaton dumping escalating as Earth Day rolls around".  Apparently the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (who claim the land as "theirs") are, facing cleaning up the dumping of trash on reclaimed Six Nations lands in Caledonia.  Apparently the dumping is being done by, Caledonia residents who live adjacent to the reclaimed lands.

Thus it is with disgust, but not surprise, that I find out that the representative of the Hereditary Council charged with land development should engage in a rant full of righteous indignation about how the local residents (many of whom were adversely impacted by the all terrain vehicles and spotlights and loud music that pounded them for months on end from the DCE site) are being "racists".  The representative said, it is the same thing of that racism, that same kind of mentality they're using against us.  All we're thought of is as garbage.  Furthermore, it is a reflection on what those citizens think of our people.  A more rational interpretation is that the land has been abandoned for 8 years and has become infested with woodticks - so if those who claim "ownership" of this property don't care, why should local residents who have a legitimate beef with individuals who caused them so much distress.  Apparently, according to the Haudenosaunee representative, 15,000 saplings have been planted at the western end of the former Douglas Creek Estates.  Perhaps, I just have not seen this plantation in my perambulations.

Claims of Representatives of Hereditary Council as to Ownership of DCE:  In the above article the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) Director then spoke of a plan to establish a fence around the property.  However, as has been the case in the past, serious misinterpretations of the facts seem to be apparent here in relation to who at this time actually owns the land.  As far as I know, it is the Provincial Government who is holding the land "in trust" until such time as a true settlement can be reached - or until justice is done and Six Nations are told that as of the year 1845 they had absolutely no further legal claim on the land.  However, the HDI Director said, I have not spoken with Haldimand County and don't intend to.  It's Six Nations land.  It has been put in the Confederacy land registry.  I suppose that there is such a registry, but it has not a sliver of any sort of legal standing.  The Director added, it is Six Nations land, it is in our land registry.  There is no need to negotiate it.  Even if such a registry is in place, not only does it have no standing with Ontario or the Federal Government, it would have no legal recognition from the Elected Council whose Lands and Resources Department would be charged with establishing such a registry.  Since the Elected Council and the Hereditary (Confederacy) Council are essentially not on speaking terms (and have not been since 1924) it would only create another wedge within the Community. 

So in the world of reality, the local residents are pitching garbage on DCE, and in some cases are extending their own property lines into this unused and untended property.  Despite what the HDI Director says, and the sign says at the entrance to the DCE, it is owned by the Province of Ontario at this point in time (never removed from the Ontario Land Registry), and if the land is abandoned then after a set number of years, an adjacent property owner who has used the land (e.g., by ploughing or fencing it unchallenged) will be able to include this acquisition to their own property deed.

Does the Word Hypocrisy Apply?:  The main point here, however, is to juxtapose the present actions of Caledonia residents with the previous actions of Six Nations residents.  On the one hand there are complaints by certain Six Nations members about Caledonia residents using the DCE property as a dump.  On the other hand the Six Nations who claim this land, and even gave it a "sacred" name, had no problem in trashing the property in 2006, and have taken no steps whatsoever to clean up the debris field near the entrance - despite repeated requests by Caledonia residents.  Some might interpret these complaints about Caledonia residents dumping trash as an irrational and narcissistic way of thinking by some Six Nations members.  Some may be left wondering about the inconsistency, or apparent hypocrisy and tendency to see themselves as special, and as a group who do not have to play by the rules of a civilized society, but are outraged when others (who are not "special") mimic what they typically do with impunity.  All very much beyond the pale in my attempts to understand the reasoning here.  If the place looks like a dump, and there are no signs to say it is not a dump, so is it any surprise that it is used as a dump?  Two wrongs do not make a right, and I am not supportive in any way of what Caledonia residents have been doing - but these actions are perfectly understandable, considering the dynamics of events beginning in 2006.


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