Wednesday, 10 June 2015

"Naughty Boys, Write 'I Have Broken the Law' on the Blackboard 10 Times"

When I attended school, a good few years ago, there were a number of punishments that could be administered by the teacher in school, ranging from a reprimand to the "strap" (a form of physical assault and abuse against a helpless child).  Only once can I recall getting Mrs. H's dreaded "pointer across the knuckles" approach to behaviour management.  Most often, if I did not complete an assignment on time or any such "infraction" I would have to stay after school and write some sentence that was in some way relevant to my misdeed on the blackboard 50 or more times.  Well, apparently our venerable Courts are willing to meet out much more laughable "punishments" for crimes committed which were highly disruptive for not just one person, but many members of the community and over a protracted period.

Last fall, before I took a "blogging hiatus", I wrote how overjoyed I was that the Ontario Provincial Police were laying charges against the three leaders of the brilliantly creative initiative to address a perceived wrong - blocking Highway 6 (once again).  Here a group of Six Nations members decided that the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in other parts of Canada warranted creating chaos in the lives of innocent Haldimand residents, and many confused travellers from elsewhere, by shutting down the main artery between Port Dover and Hamilton.  The same action (blocking Highway 6) was used by a group of largely youthful Six Nations members, primed and egged on by social media, who wanted to protest the fracking in New Brunswick (although at the time these socially responsible protesters there were pitching Molotov cocktails at RCMP officers), in October of 2013. 

In considering the two above incidents of blocking Highway 6 there was one difference.  In the 2013 instance all of the perpetrators were given a pass - no charges were laid by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), sending a very clear message to those who might consider following the same path (you will probably get away with it - if you are Native).  Of course there is not a shadow of a doubt that if Caledonia residents had done precisely the same act, for whatever reason, they would have been arrested on the spot, and charged and punished by a Court of law.  It is hardly a secret hereabouts. 

So when the perpetrators of the 2014 incident were not arrested on the spot this was seen as highly predictable in light of the OPP's two-tiered policing of Haldimand County (one set of rules for "aboriginals" and another set of rules for "non-Natives").  However, at a later date the ringleaders were charged and required to answer to the changes in Court (giving some credit to the OPP for at least doing something).  So the expectation was that some sort of meaningful punishment would be administered which would act as a deterrent to others who might consider blocking Highway 6 yet once again.  See here for further details.  However, in addition, the person responsible for erecting the gate blocking the Haldimand County owned Surrey Street was also brought to Court at this time.  The details of the "punishments" were reported in "Turtle Island News", June 10, 2015, p. 4 in an article entitled, Charges dropped in MMIW protest, and Kanonhstaton fence.

The matters were heard in the Provincial Court in Cayuga, and in a jaw dropping development, Mischief charges against a number of Haudenosaunee men have been dropped after they agreed to give donations to local charities as part of a joint resolution between the Crown and defence.  The reporter correctly calls this an "unusual move", which evolved during alternative dispute resolution discussions.  It is noteworthy that the lawyer for the "defence" was the legal representative of the militant and highly controversial Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI). 

So the obvious question here is, "would this option have been available if the person being charged was a non-Native resident of Caledonia.  No head scratching is needed here, the answer is a resounding NO!  This is another example of the double standard that is being applied in Haldimand County, which is decidedly to the advantage to those who possess a "Status Card".  The Indian is seen as a victim of some sort (don't forget the Residential Schools, and any of a number of other such matters), and so accorded special and preferential treatment.  To rub salt into the wound, The charges [of mischief] were withdrawn and there was no finding of culpability in terms of any wrongdoing.

So, since the majority of those inconvenienced by the blockade were residents of Haldimand County, was there any stipulation in relation to the "local charities"?  I don't think that many (any) would be surprised to learn that no one opted to donate to a charity that would benefit all (e.g., to cancer or diabetes research), or specifically those who reside in Haldimand County. 

Two of these worthies donated $300 to the Hamilton Regional Indian Friendship Centre, and a third donated $360 to Six Nations Minor Softball.  The individual originally charged with "mischief over $5000" in relation to the installation of the gate resulting in the destruction of County property donated $500 to Six Nations Minor Lacrosse.  Is it possible that the HDI will pay these "fines" and that the perpetrators will get away scot free?  That is certainly a likely scenario, but we will never know since the HDI is among the least transparent organizations (despite persistent complaints from the Six Nations community), and the books are closed - as far as anyone knows.

It should also be noted that Haldimand County residents who attended the Court proceedings reported complete and utter respect toward the Court being shown by the Natives in attendance.  For example they did not stand when the Judge entered the Court.  This would NEVER be tolerated if the people had been non-Native.  Once again the double standard prevailed here.  There are never any consequences for courtroom misbehaviour, as was the case during all proceedings relating to the DCE situation from 2006.  It would be understandable if anyone present at these Court sessions concluded that people from Six Nations are complete and utter boors, with no class and showing no respect.  However when things are turned around, these same people expect complete respect for their culture and traditions - but they are not willing to give respect to others, only demand it for themselves.

This "agreement" is but another slap in the face of Haldimand residents, and a tap on the wrist of Six Nations activists who have yet again learned that there are no or minimal consequences for their actions. 

At the moment I sit here thoroughly disgusted, and with a monumental feeling of betrayal.



  1. Hello, Deyo! I was in court to witness this "unusual move." It is everything that you put here so well. I have become quite cynical towards the workings of our OPP and of our Crown, but still I did not see this coming. The adage, 'be careful what you ask for because you might get it' rears its head.

  2. Hello Bonnie, yes, this whole business has reached the level of an embarrassing absurdity - and shame on those at Six Nations who show such disrespect, and the officials who tolerate it.