WAHTA ‑ There were a number of important issues discussed at the recent meeting of the Iroquois Caucus held this time in Wahta, Ontario. Six Iroquois communities were represented at the two day meeting.
Twenty-two attendees including Chiefs, Councillors and technical staff were present at the meeting chaired by Chief Phillip Franks (Wahta). Other leaders were Grand Chief Serge Simon (Kanehsata:ke), Chief Sheri Doxtator (Oneida), Grand Chief Joe Norton (Kahnawake), District Chief Joe Lazore (Akwesasne), Councillor Terry General (SN), Councillor Wray Maracle (SN), and Councillor Lewis Staats (SN).
An invitation to the Caucus which was reportedly sent to Enbridge — the movers and shakers of the Alberta oil sands project and associated pipelines — was met with protest from both Kanehsata:ke and Six Nations of the Grand River. Both declared that if Enbridge did in fact attend, they would leave.
“If Enbridge showed up here at the Iroquois Caucus, they will walk out as they view that it is the Crown, and the communities finalize a Consultation and Accommodation process before engaging in discussion with the individual entities as we do not have signed treaties with those entities,” stated a media release.
Also on the discussion table was a resolution from the Iroquois Caucus on the support of the “Cigar Chief” (Robert Greenwood). Kanehsata:ke stated they want the Tyendinaga reserve to take up the fight since it seems to only benefit them. The Greenwood issue is about billboard advertisements of his products along Hwy 401, which runs through the Tyendinaga community.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) has been undertaken by some Chiefs of Ontario members to fundraise for the newly founded Who Is She campaign – a fundraising effort aimed at creating a First Nations-led, community-driven process to eradicate violence against Indigenous women and girls.
COO Grand Chief Isadore Day, Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish and Six Nations Chief Ava Hill were on hand to kick off the campaign along with Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull-Burnham on September 9, 2015. The goal is to end violence in our communities. The most effective way of addressing this systemic issue is to engage in a community-driven process to examine the collective safety of Indigenous peoples. Kahnawake started with a Golf Tournament fundraiser. There are safe guards in place where they need 3 signatories to withdraw money from this account.
Issues of First Nations people who work off the territory were also discussed. Some have not had to pay the tax on some of their income. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is now saying those people need to pay all of that tax, which the First Nations person has previously said was non-taxable. This could be in the thousands of dollars owed. So since Six Nations declined to take the lead on taxation, Oneida did not want to see this item fall off the radar.
On language preservation, Kanehsata:ke announced they will host the first Language summit with Oneida. However a date is still be worked out. Kanehsata:ke asked that the other Iroquois Caucus communities contribute some funding to help with the organizing and hosting of the Language summit. No budget was proposed to date.
Kahnawake is preparing to host an Economic Development summit. It was suggested that all seven communities invest in a land based casino.
All Iroquois Caucus communities were to [look at] post-secondary education issues and do a survey (or a needs assessment) with our communities. Lack of funding for kindergarten, elementary, secondary and special needs students, for example. Truth and Reconciliation has a number of recommendations in its report on Education. It is still needed to set a date, set targets for each community to bring that info back to the Iroquois Caucus.
As per the Free Trade MOU, whereas section; each community signing the MOU must provide an accompany resolution from their duly elected councils. No community has these resolutions with them, so each community will need to address each council to gain an approved resolution to be submitted by them at the next Iroquois Caucus meeting. The official signing will take place at the next Iroquois Caucus.