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OPINION: Elected leaders advocates for growth, not just merely administrators

OPINION: Elected leaders advocates for growth, not just merely administrators

In this election year, accusations of misconduct and theft toward the Six Nations Elected Council and their employees has hit an all-time high. Claim after claim emerges from the Grand River Gossip Group multiple times a day — intent on spreading rhetoric that the community’s elected leaders are “merely administrators”. This is not new. The

In this election year, accusations of misconduct and theft toward the Six Nations Elected Council and their employees has hit an all-time high.

Claim after claim emerges from the Grand River Gossip Group multiple times a day — intent on spreading rhetoric that the community’s elected leaders are “merely administrators”.

This is not new. The “merely administrators” meme is a public relations device that can be traced back to a strategy document drafted for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy by a lawyer from Toronto on how the hereditary chiefs can claim governing power. That strategy outlined several steps the Confederacy needed to take to claim authority as a “true government”; including using the press to get the community to accept the “merely administrators” narrative and pushing for SNEC surrender letter.

Actually, Six Nations elected leaders and council employees have been doing way more than “merely administrating” — actively advocating for the community and proving themselves to be strong negotiators and powerful networkers making strides for change — working to bridge the socio-economic gaps that exist between indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

In 2013 SNEC negotiated a new Policing Agreement gaining eight permanent new officers for the community.
The council completed and opened a water treatment plant, a skate park, a youth centre, new fire and emergency services building, community splash pad and the new Gathering Place Convention Centre.

A Six Nations Youth Council was created to make space for young people’s concerns and visions for the future.
During her time in office, Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill lobbied provincial legislators and Hydro One and successfully eliminated delivery charges for every on-reserve First Nations resident in Ontario. This cut most people’s on-rez bills by 50%.

Chief Hill has been appointed as s Special Advisor to the Ministers Cabinet Table on Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion. She also began an initiative to keep the community informed by giving accessible monthly updates both on community radio, and on videos posted to the council’s website and social media accounts.

The sitting council developed a 95 unit housing development that is in the works.

In 2017 — they made a Declaration to Combat Drug Abuse in the Community and launched a public awareness campaign.
SNEC has established an annual fundraising Firefighters Gala, First Responders Breakfast and saw the first Six Nations Fire Department graduating class of indigenous firefighters.

Action has been taken by the council to fundraise for surviving family members of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

In 2015, a development corporation was created as a mechanism for Six Nations to create community wealth. The Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation has received national awards from the Canada Council on Aboriginal Business and Deloitte — acknowledging them for having a large number of millennial employees.

The council secured $10 million for water pipelines to two Six Nations schools. Work on the waterlines continue to this day.

SNEC has taken community feedback to get involved in Green Energy and become partners with renewable energy projects throughout Ontario. Six Nations is now a stakeholder in the new Green Economy.

Elected Council and staff worked hard as hosts for the PanAm Games and have developed a partnership to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games with Niagara Region.

Over $102 million dollars from the Brantford Casino has been committed over 20 years to Six Nations. Another $10 million dollars is coming to the Six Nations Language Program.

The Six Nations Elected Council and council staff actively advocated in a landmark case — which ruled Indigenous people have inherent rights to use traditional medicine in Canada.

The elected leaders and council employees of Six Nations are not “merely administrators”. They are individual community members each bearing the heart of an advocate with a love for the Rez, it’s people and our collective future.

1 comment
Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow, Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations, is Outreach Editor for the Two Row Times. Her popular column, Scone Dogs and Seed Beads brings weekly thoughts on current day indigenous identity. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She studied Journalism, Human Rights and Indigenous Studies at Laurier University. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who also brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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1 Comment

  • Andrew Bomberry
    June 26, 2019, 11:48 pm

    I’m sure that the band council members care about the community, but that does not legitimize their operations. The Band Council remains a construct of the Canadian government, receiving its mandate from the Indian Act, and accountable to the Canadian government and a small minority of the community.

    Even when the Band Council does good things, this does not legitimize the role of band council. It’s kind of like if someone breaks into your home and steals your things, but they sell them at a profit and share the profit with you.

    As long as Band Council is an Indian Act creation, by default it is working in part against the best interests of the community. There’s an overarching issue of the people choosing the government that most represents them, and providing that mandate so that there’s true vision and leadership from the government informed by support and the public trust of the community, to whom they are accountable.

    I cannot help but think that a government never asked for, not created by us, that, if the Canadian government stopped supporting, would itself fade away, is not the ideal government to be taking the helm – and it Is taking, as opposed to being given the public trust to lead.

    There’s a very problematic road ahead if we accept this violation of our sovereignty as a solution – and ignore the club that band council wields by default of being a product of the Indian Act. We cannot turn our backs to it, cannot quietly close its doors without worrying about how the Canadian government will assert itself as it has in the past to keep band council’s doors open. A governance ‘solution’ forced on us and maintained by a sovereign power is never truly our government, never truly working towards our sovereignty. If anything, accepting band council is a tacit surrender and a suggestion that additional forced changes will be welcome so long as they keep pushing it at us long enough.

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