An article entitled, McClung development mobilizes Six Nations, Two Row Times (TRT), 30 March 2016, p.8, warns that Six Nations factions (frequently at odds with one another) are uniting around the banner of their objection against the McClung development east of Caledonia.
Well, what has taken them so long? There have been rumblings of discontent since the development was announced, but only sporadic action (most behind the scenes). Perhaps this lulled many into a false sense of security that anything like 2006 would ever happen again.
Many Haldimand residents also have no desire to see the development, already underway, which would result in a new "city beside a city", in effect "New Caledonia", a community of about 10,000 new residents (thus doubling the present size of Caledonia) now forging ahead east along Highway 54 and up McClung Road. For some time people such as myself (in this blog) have provided alerts and warnings that the pot is simmering, and has the potential of boiling over.
The first move came from Men's Fire (an arm of the Six Nations Hereditary Council) confronting the developers, which resulted in a restraining order and approval to the developers to go ahead. Various groups at Six Nations are now saying that the judge erred, and did not take into consideration Six Nations land claims and "treaty rights". As I have noted in a number of blog postings before, there is no factual basis for any land claim (the land having been surrendered in 1841, and all the t's crossed and i's dotted by 1850 with Lord Elgin's Report), and Six Nations has no "treaty rights" - the "Nanfan Treaty" of 1701 is bogus; and the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 is not a treaty. Never the less this has never deterred Six Nations from pressing claims of one sort or another (e.g., in South Cayuga) and winning concessions (to avoid the unpleasantness of blockades and riots) in the form of for example monies from wind and solar development.
The land in question here is part of a Land Claim submitted in 1987, with unsubstantiated ownership claims (even with the clarity seen in the Ontario Land Records Registry Office documents; and the "Indian Affairs Papers, RG10 Series" at the National Archives), and "demands" for meaningful consultation, engagement and accommodation that must take place.
What is new in all this is the concatenation of factions now involved in the issue. It is no surprise to see Men's Fire, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) and well as their very radical and controversial enforcement arm the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) come together to contest the development. What is surprising is that their "arch enemy", the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) are joining with (although not necessarily meeting with) the other Six Nations parties to confront this development head on. The TRT article describes the attempts by each of these parties to basically state (warn) the developers (and Haldimand County) that there needs to be meetings, and how each attempt has been rebuffed. So not only are representatives of the HCCC / HDI giving advice to potential buyers saying, exercise caution before investing in this particular development; but the position of SNEC is that they will be, ready to intervene to protect its interests and rights when the time is right. With the latter statement one might picture a coiled snake, poised and ready to strike and inject its poisonous venom against the target group.
It is interesting to note that the article states that, Although divided on many issues, this is one matter that galvanizes all of Six Nations people.
Perhaps the developer considers that the judgement of the Ontario Superior Court is sufficient - which under "normal" circumstances would be true. If that is the case, they don't understand the dynamics in this neck of the woods - or what history should teach us.
In the past I have blogged how Six Nations sees the Empire / McClung Road Development as little more than Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) north. Are people in Haldimand and the developer so naive as to believe that the same situation will not emerge ten years after the April 2006 take over of DCE, which to this day is still under the control of the Six Nations HCCC and HDI. Forty acres of tic infested wasteland (no top soil), surrounded by a fence, and guarded at the entrance to Surrey Street. No level of government has been willing to act and arrest the trespassers and return the land to its rightful owners (now the Province of Ontario). That describes DCE to April 2016. By now there should have been a few hundred new homes, and a thriving community. That never happened. What we got was chaos, anarchy, rule by force, and the abandonment of the people of Caledonia to thugs by all levels of government, and particularly the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who established "no go" zones and citizens were left to their own devices after the violent take over ("reclamation") with the road blockades, assaults, infrastructure meltdowns, arson destruction (burning of the Stirling Street Bridge which has not been rebuilt to this day) - and billions of taxpayer dollars spent keeping a lid on things over the last 10 years. Those who do not live here can be forgiven for forgetting - but those of us on the front line cannot forget the violence and acrimony and lack of any support by any law enforcement agency. So perhaps we can be forgiven for being a little "twitchy" about the matter - been there, seen that, done that - the refrain being echoed last time was "never again" - so things could get ugly.
The article ends with a summary to the effect that, According to Six Nations people across the board, the $80 million proposed subdivision sits on unceded Six Nations land. This was the same argument that triggered the reclamation of Douglas Creek Estates located on the other side of the river. There is more than a veiled warning in all this rhetoric.
While on a personal level I vehemently oppose the development, my reasons are different. As noted, I am aware that the land was properly surrendered in 1841 and ratified at various points until 1850 so disagree with the rationale being put forward by Six Nations. However I don't want to see this development come to fruition because it will have a devastating effect on the environment and cultural aspect of Caledonia.
If things progress further, as I have said before, it is not hard to prove (it has already been done by the Superior Court of Ontario in Brantford, 2009) that the land claim is without foundation; or that so called "treaty rights" do not exist for the Six Nations refugees who came to Ontario in 1785 - nor their descendants (including myself). What is also important to the present writer, who only seeks the truth based on the preponderance of the evidence, Six Nations is not "playing fair", and therein lies the rub.
As noted in a previous post, in the 1980s agents of the Band Council arrived at the Indian Office in Brantford and systematically looted records that belonged to the Government of Canada. These documents were taken to the Woodland Indian Cultural Educational Center in Brantford, where they were microfilmed. I personally saw these documents in the library there and know that they, and the microfilm, were transported to the Land Office where I presume they remain to this day. What is particularly upsetting is that all of these records were in the process of being sent to the National Archives in Ottawa, but ultimately only part of the collection made it there because of a petition by D.H., a resident of Caledonia who wanted the records to remain locally so they could be studied by locals interested in family history. Alas, before she passed away D.H. came to my house and tearfully said that this was the worst decision she had ever made in her life - although little could she have anticipated what would transpire and is in no way to blame for a later act of theft.
The result is that the Land Inspection Returns (1844) for Oneida Township (where DCE is located) are at the National Archives of Canada and anyone can access the records. However the same collection, the Land Inspection Returns for Seneca Township (where the Empire / McClung Development is taking place) are hidden away and not open for inspection. Fairness would dictate that all parties have access to the same documents but that is simply not the case. The Six Nations have the upper hand here, although I don't imagine that anyone but the land researchers there and myself know the whole truth. However what seems to be reasonable and fair is that, in my opinion, any level of government refuse to negotiate on any land matter until the stolen records are turned over to the rightful owners, the Government and people of Canada. Then we can talk.
Before people get too worked up about fall out and consequences, they may wish to read some of my previous blogs where I have given a very clear rationale as to why a Caledonia 2006 is unlikely to morph into McClung 2016 - with geography playing the major role in the dynamic. Never the less, the threats will escalate, and there will without a doubt be forays and skirmishes which might include blockades (common in the past) to show the developers and Haldimand County that they are serious about claiming the land (or at the very least being included in discussions).
So get your collective heads out of your collective ............. and realize that the problem is not going away. I do hope that the developer, Haldimand County, and the OPP are all prepared for any and all contingencies - although again, I don't want to see the development proceed any more than the many factions at Six Nations do. I doubt that I will be standing against Six Nations, and may well be among them when the crunch comes - common cause and all that. Too early to know for sure.