In the 1990’s there was a video game called SimCity. The premise of this game put the player as the mayor of an undeveloped patch of land and it was your job to take a budget and create a bustling metropolis.
Good players would zone commercial areas near the water for high land values and industrial sites away from the housing zones. Bad players would build their cities like Brantford and put their polluted industrial and landfill areas right beside their water source (Grand River) and housing project (Eagle Place). Not to mention a Sewage Treatment Plant.
How did it get like this?
When Joseph Brant arrived with 448 Mohawks and 1395 “Such Others” he forded the Grand River and established the original settlement. That is where the name Brant-ford comes from. ‘Her Majesty’s Chapel to the Mohawks’ was built in 1785 as a form of restitution for the millions of acres of land we forsook in Upper New York State. Gee Thanks.
Then, the church and the crown in a moment of brilliant clairvoyance decided to spruce things up in 1835 and erected an Institute beside the Mohawk settlement. They called it the Mohawk Institute. We called it the mush hole because it was a pit of filth.
Now decades go by and meetings take place. The Mohawks and Such Others are moved onto what was called Reserve Number 40 Tuscarora Township by the Dominion of Canada. We called it Six Nations and now it has become a place to get cheap gas and cigarettes, but let’s digress.
At SOME point a clandestine meeting took place in which the Illuminati, the Pope and the Queen must have presided and a boardroom full of aged men in Satanic black robes passed a fateful decree. Let’s imagine up some of the words that were spoken:
“Ahem, so now we must decide upon the issue of these…. Indians. They hath travelled downstream a fortnight’s journey and although a handful has remained we must do something about them. Doth anyone have ideas? Jerome? Eugenio?”
“We could dump our refuse and excrement into the water and they would eventually have to drink it…”
“Yesss Father Adolfo, YESSSS!”
When you live in Ohsweken and constantly have to deal with boil water advisories and sewage spillages in the Grand River it’s hard not to think meetings like this have taken place. Why in the world would anyone zone a landfill beside a river AND a Royal historic site? Not to mention an ancient Onkwehonwe settlement that must have thousands of artifacts and valuable relics from the past.
And then down Mohawk Street there is the brownfield site, sandwiching the poor Woodland Cultural Centre between disgusting dump smells and toxic waste infused land. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brantford someday decides to build an experimental cold fusion power plant beside the dump and we can have a good ol’ fashioned Chernobyl on our most precious land as a cherry on top.
If it was only a video game we could laugh about it but this is reality for native people – 300 years of bad zoning.