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11th hour move protects land from tax sale

BRANTFORD — At the 11th hour, Six Nations Elected Band Council stepped in to stop a piece of property willed to Six Nations Council by a Brantford citizen eight years ago from going on the auction block.

BRANTFORD — At the 11th hour, Six Nations Elected Band Council stepped in to stop a piece of property willed to Six Nations Council by a Brantford citizen eight years ago from going on the auction block.

Despite calls for further consultation from the Elected Band Council under two successive Chief Councillors, five acres of property located at 431 West Street in Brantford went up for tax sale last Thursday.

In a strategic move to stop the sale, Band Council paid the outstanding $46,000 tax bill but under protest, meaning they can and probably will contest the taxes in court in an attempt to get that money back.

The late William Fuller willed his home and the land it sits on to the Six Nations Elected Band Council upon his death eight years ago. According to former Chief Bill Montour, all back taxes were paid by the estate of Mr. Fuller, however the city continued to accumulate taxes over the eight years that followed and ordered Six Nations to pay up or the land would go up for auction as a tax arrears sale.

Since then Ava Hill has taken over the office as Six Nations Elected Council Chief and under her administration, another request for consultation over the contested taxes was made.
“We were trying to work out an agreement with Friel,” said Chief Hill. “We sent out a letter to the (Six Nations) community explaining the situation and why Band Council would probably pay the taxes to stop the sale, and then sue them to get that money back, if we have to.”

Chief Hill was not happy when, after two administration’s best efforts to keep open the consultation process, the city announced the land sale.

The property is under registered land claim as part of the 7,000 acre Johnson Settlement Claim, which also encompasses 5,000 of land the County of Brant and Brantford are fighting over in a proposed land transfer deal.

But beyond that, section #9 of a 1997 agreement struck between Six Nations and the city, and signed by then Chief Wellington Staats and current city mayor Chris Friel, reads that any land held in trust for the people of Six Nations was not to be taxed as it would be considered reserve #40 lands, as the Glebe Property in the city’s east end is recognized.

While others watched closely and began lining up to purchase the land at fire sale prices, Band Council stopped the proceedings only hours before it was to be sold by paying the back taxes, but under duress, leaving the door open for litigation if necessary or preferably, more consultation.

According to City Hall records, the issue of tax sale was discussed in December of 2012 by the “First Nations Liaison Committee” with then Chief Bill Montour and Lonny Bomberry in attendance. It was decided at that meeting to hold off any tax sale until they could get more input from Six Nations on the matter.

In May of 2013, Montour and Bomberry again met with the liaison committee where it was decided that the city would hold off sale until Six Nations could pursue adding the property to reserve #40, and therefor, tax free.

May 21st, 2013, council decided to hold off sale of the land until the end of June 2013, when Six Nations Band Council was to bring an update on its progress. If no answer from Montour came by that date, the sale would go ahead.

The issue came back to council in June with a recommendation to seek further legal advice on the ramifications of selling the land in question. The thin majority of council shot down that resolution 5-4, with two absentees in Mayor Friel, who was away attending his daughter’s graduation, and Councillor Utley.

Voting to hold off any action until further legal advice could be provided were: Councillors Vince Bucci, Larry Kings, Debi Dignan-Rumble, and David Neumann. Voting not to seek any further legal council and to go ahead with the tax sale despite Six Nations written and spoken wishes, and an open door to continue talks towards settling the matter without conflict were: Councillors Marguerite Ceschi-Smith, Dave Wrobel, Richard Carpenter, Dan McCreary, and Councillor Jan Vanderstelt.

Montour and Friel met on December 5th where it was agreed again that a workable solution could be reached. But on Dec. 11th, Band Council was sent a notification that the sale would go ahead on January 9th, 2014.

According to Friel, his understanding was that the sale would not move forward, giving Six Nations and the city more time to discuss a resolution to the situation.
The Elected Council are currently involved in the new council’s orientation meetings where priorities of council will be established. What to do about the West Street property will, no doubt, be a part of those discussions.

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Jim Windle

Jim Windle

Jim Windle is a veteran news and sports reporter who has been published in a number of mediums and publications. contact Jim: windlejim@rocketmail.com

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7 Comments

  • N8VSON
    January 22, 2014, 8:01 pm

    From the article: “But beyond that, section #9 of a 1997 agreement struck between Six Nations and the city, and signed by then Chief Wellington Staats and current city mayor Chris Friel, reads that any land held in trust for the people of Six Nations was not to be taxed as it would be considered reserve #40 lands, as the Glebe Property in the city’s east end is recognized.”
    Seems to me that Friel continues to show us both sides of his face. I believe he gets his courage from looking at how the people of Six Nations react to his shenanigans. From where I sit, all he sees is about 12,000 neighbours who could care less and so, he forages forward with the confidence of one who knows there is no one to stop him. And he’s right. The settler courts succeeded in scaring the pants off the people of Six Nations by using the courts to suppress our inalienable right to protest an injustice. The injunction worked and worked well. Expect more of the same as issues come and go (in Brantford’s favour). I need not itemize the long, LONG list of Brantford’s transgressions against the people of Six Nations nor the disdain that the city holds for us of Six Nations. We’re too scared to do a damn thing about it!

    REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    January 16, 2014, 6:52 pm

    If the Six Nations of the Grand River owns the land on West St. in Brantford and the land it is outside of the reserve and it is not reserve land, then the Six Nations should pay the property taxes on that land. That’s the way it is.

    The articles says the land on West St, is part of the Johnson settlement.

    According to the 2009 Holmes report to Justice Arrell in the Brantford injunction case, Holmes reported with references that 45 chiefs from the Six Nations of the Grand River agreed to surrender use of the Oxbow tract, the Eagles Nest tract, the Martin settlement and the Johnson settlement to the Crown for sale in 1844.

    Here is a quote from the 1844 agreement.

    “On the other part of their answer that the lands on the north side of the River known as the Oxbow, Eagle’s Nest, Martin and Johnson settlements be leased and not sold. From this answer they unanimously recede and therefore agree that the same be sold.”
    Source: 1844 agreement (surrender), Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Reel C-1149, Volume 44, pages 83269 – 83279.

    Holmes also reported with references that, in a petition to the Crown in 1846, sixty four Six Nation chiefs confirmed the Six Nations had agreed to surrender use of the Oxbow tract, the Eagles Nest tract, the Martin settlement and the Johnson settlement to the Crown for sale in 1844.

    Besides, the Federal government has not yet said the Johnson settlement claim is valid.

    And I don’t why Brantford mayor Friel and others would say the land on West St. is reserve 40 land. It would not become reserve land unless and until the Six Nations goes through the federal process of converting it to reserve land according to the federal Additions to Reserves policy.

    REPLY
    • BIG6MOHAWK@Garry Horsnell
      January 20, 2014, 1:55 pm

      64 chiefs Gerry? That in its shelf is a problem.

      REPLY
      • Garry Horsnell@BIG6MOHAWK
        February 12, 2014, 7:59 am

        That could be when Six Nations people say the 1701 Albany (Nanfan) Treaty is valid in southwestern Ontario and only 20 chiefs from the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois Confederacy signed that treaty.

        And that could be when the Crown bought the land along the Grand River from the Ojibwa Mississauga Indians on May 22, 1784; when Crown courts have said October 25, 1784 Haldimand announcement was a license for Six Nations people simply to occupy the Crowns land along the Grand River; when the Six Nations would not accept the 1793 Simcoe Patent (deed) so the land along the Grand River remained the Crown’s land and when the Crown could have appropriated its own land without the agreement or signature of any Six Nations chief.

        REPLY
        • BIG6MOHAWK@Garry Horsnell
          February 12, 2014, 1:09 pm

          Garry there are not 64 chiefs.

          REPLY
        • Graham PorterHill@BIG6MOHAWK
          July 23, 2016, 7:09 pm

          There are 52 Chiefs, and that could include the fake Chiefs the Crown of Canada declared to exist. Our Chiefs are chosen the Traditional way, what’s yours. I know about the fake Chiefs. I have been reading about them for years. What’s been done about that? We, as Native Peoples have a lot of work to do. Let’s not dwell on window-dressing, let’s put our energy to the legal points such as Evictions from our Territory

          REPLY
        • Graham PorterHill@Garry Horsnell
          July 14, 2016, 3:44 am

          Those arguments are out the window now in 2008 when the Superior Court of Ontario declared Six Nations Land Entitlement was secure. And that the Simcoe Patent was yet just another attempt to E appropriate Six Nations Land that not does not have to be visited since the Superior Court of Ontario declared that Six Nations was in sole ownership of the Grand River Territory that existed in Six Nations Traditional Beaver Hunting Grounds of 1701. For other papers to exist at the same time contrary to the originals makes in redundant to visit because those instruments were created at a time so much later to further their grip on Six Nations Land by selling Six Nations land to Adverse Occupiers with money paid to the Crown and not Six Natiins because it was outlawed that Six Nations could not hire lawyers, and these land lease fees were withheld so that be out pawing hiring a lawyer they assumed that they be fighting against their own money so they took steps to freeze Six Nations Consolidated Funds Account so long that Six Nations peoples were starving. And suspended welfare alottments as well for the same reason. All of which took years to re-establish. Which why so many went to work in Buffalo NY USA.

          REPLY
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