Last Thursday I attended a meeting regarding the Erie Ave/Birkett’s Lane development dispute. If the reader is unaware of what is going on then may I suggest reading the back issues of the Two Row Times, they sum it up nicely. To say the least, I was in for a big surprise. The meeting was over before it even started. Without getting into the who’s who and who said what, I was just in shock and disbelief at what I heard and saw.
This was my first real taste of what is going on between different factions of the Six Nations when it comes to land disputes and making deals with developers. After speaking with a few people from Six Nations, mostly younger people, I got a better understanding of where others sit on this. I can say for certain regarding the people who I did question that unanimously, all this bickering and arguing isn’t good and it isn’t healthy.
If I may offer some advice it would be this: I encourage everyone to get educated. Let’s really think about this thoroughly and try not to make bad judgments or decisions. Let’s not accept money for land that is rightfully ours (or Mohawk land – it’s not the point). Money is the root of all evil. In a world that is environmentally and economically falling apart, we, especially as Indigenous people, should be figuring out ways how to live WITHOUT money (it is possible). We need to stop relying on western society to survive. One day when this almighty powerful western society crumbles and falls, they will be coming to us for answers. So let us put our minds together as one, and figure this out.
My advice is this: We should not accept any form of cash payment for land disputes or from developers. Once we accept that cash payment, then we give up any future right to claim ownership or entitlement to that land. Once we blow through that money we will be back at square one scratching our heads and wondering what to do next.
My advice is this: Stop playing a game that we cannot win. For example, blowing money on expensive lawyers who claim to have our best interest at heart when these same lawyers know full well how much of a failure the Canadian criminal justice system is along with the whole court process.
My advice is this: Reach out to the International community. Make relationships with other nations, other cultures, other countries who go through similar situations with their governments. Put Canada on the map, as a country who has historically, and continues to violate the rights of their First Nations people!
My advice is this: The only way any of this is going to work is when, and only when, we start working together as a community, as ONE and with a Good Mind.
As a side note, I would just like to mention the “Four Nations” of Hobbema, Alberta. They are the Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation (collectively known as Hobbema). Many years ago Hobbema accepted money for their oil rich lands. When a community member became 18 years of age, they inherited thousands of dollars. Hobbema is Canada’s First Nation crime capital. Money turned people careless and reckless.
The money also turned people into drug addicts. The Hobbema drug trade brought in various gangs and with that came the violence. At one point, estimated drive-by shootings averaged 4-5 per night. So take notes people, for anyone that wants to bring this much money onto Six Nations, I hope you’re ready to deal with something like this. Money is not the answer!
Remember this, our children, grandchildren and future grand children don’t need money. They need land to live on. They need fresh water and clean air. They need gardens to plant in and animals to hunt for food. Let’s keep that in mind next time we ‘negotiate’.