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Brant may tell Brantford “no” to Johnson Tract transfer

OHSWEKEN – The Municipality of the County of Brant is tired of being treated like Brantford’s quaint country cousin, and has stood up to the political pressure of City Hall by insisting that Six Nations be included in the conversation.

County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy and new Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill have an informal chat in front of a copy of the Haldimand Proclamation. (Photo by Jim Windle)

County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy and new Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill have a casual conversation in front of a copy of the Haldimand Deed before Monday’s joint councils meeting between Six Nations and Brant councils. (Photo by Jim Windle)

OHSWEKEN – The Municipality of the County of Brant is tired of being treated like Brantford’s quaint country cousin, and has stood up to the political pressure of City Hall by insisting that Six Nations be included in the conversation.

Brantford’s letter of intent, which they are seeking the Municipality of the County of Brant to improve, would see 5,000 acres of the 7,000-acre Johnson Settlement Tract signed over to the city from the country for $16.3 million in compensation.

The city wants more housing and industrial development along highway #403 so as to grow the city to compete with other large urban centres, like Mississauga or Kitchener-Waterloo.

The County wants to ensure that farming remains an important part of its rural mandate and way of life.

As far as the city is concerned, Six Nations has little, if any, say in the matter. However, the county insists it hear from Six Nations, which feels it holds the underlying title to the land, as part of the 7,000 acre Johnson Tract, which is under a registered land claim. They made it clear that this must take place before it formally answers Brantford’s request.

That meeting took place Monday morning at the Six Nations Elected Council Chambers. The County Council will either accept or reject Brantford’s letter of intent during a special meeting of their council, this Thursday night at 7 pm.

Mayors Ron Eddy of Brant and Chris Friel of Brantford have been like two dogs wrestling over the same bone for several years, with no mutually acceptable resolution to date.

Six Nations former Elected Chief Bill Montour, on behalf of the Elected Band Council, made it clear in a letter to both Brant and Brantford Councils, that Six Nations must be a part of any deal regarding Johnson Tract lands. New elected Chief, Ava Hill was a part of that council and agreed.

Some Brant County Councillors oppose the transfer on those grounds and of preserving some of southwestern Ontario’s best remaining farmlands, while others on council dicker over whether they are getting proper market value for the land in question.

Before Monday’s meeting in Ohsweken, only one county councillor, Brian Coleman, said he would approve the transfer as recommended by the city, albeit reluctantly. But all seem to be equally put off by Mayor Friel and his council’s strong-arm tactics.

Unlike Brantford, Brant has been listening to its citizens, many of whom reject the proposal outright.

Mayor Friel and his council have unanimously approved their letter of intent drafted and sent to the County with the details they would like to see as part of their proposal. Six Nations has not been a part of Brantford’s deliberations.

Until Monday, the county wasn’t meeting with Six Nations either. But Brant Mayor Eddy and councillors John Wheat and Rob Chambers explained why that was.

“It was the Province that said that the municipality must consult with Six Nations,” said Eddy. “It was on those principles that we went into these negotiations.”

Councillor Wheat was a part of the team chosen to enter into talks with Brantford, and with what he expected to be, Six Nations.

“I was a part of that task force,” said Wheat. “At the start of it, it was requested by the County of Brant that Six Nations would be sitting the table. It was the provincial facilitator Paula Dill who said no, and that they, the province, would be consulting with Six Nations. That was the impression that was given to me.

“Then two meetings in, things changed and suddenly it was up to us to consult with Six Nations,” Wheat recalls. “But it was our opinion, right from the start, that Six Nations was to be included. We also wanted to go to our people to consult, but she would not allow it.”

Brant Councillor Ron Chambers also recalls the about face from Dill.

“Right from the get-go it was the position of the council that we wanted to include Six Nations in terms of consultation and accommodation,” he said. “But the actual negotiation process with the facilitator was delayed for some time, a couple of weeks, where they were to consult with Six Nations. As it turned out, they didn’t do that and when we finally got to meet, it was now our responsibility. At that point, we were in with the negotiations, which were in camera, and so we could not. That is what we are trying to do today, to catch up on something we wanted to do right from the get-go.”

It was also asked by Six Nations council, what the big rush to get this done is all about.

Eddy revealed that by law, there can be no land transfers in an election year. Since municipal elections are in 2014, if no agreement is reached by Dec. 30th, they may have to wait a full year to get back at it. But Eddy warns that the province also has the right to change that law should they choose to.

There were many other discussions and questions asked regarding the pending transfer, but as the meeting closed down, Brant County again referred to this coming Thursday’s Brant Council Meeting where the final word on acceptance of the Brantford letter of intent will get the thumbs up or down in open session.

A Two Row Times reporter was barred from a similar meeting in Brantford, while local Brantford news reporters were invited in. Assurances were given that this time, on Brant County turf, Two Row Times will be welcome.

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  • Hoofstep
    December 27, 2013, 11:09 pm

    What a presentation of treaty history!

    Those old treaties were invalid, because the content – what was merely expressed, was inadequate to construct any agreement on. It never got to the heart of the matter.

    I know you have languaged the chronology of the treaties in a way that questions the integrity of the Haudenosaunee, but that will never change whose cultural perspective was grounded in opportunism, and it’s no surprise that what is not even implied in the treaties says more about whose integrity could be called into question. If only the whites had known enough to respectfully acknowledge “we are swarming like bees out of the Continent; we fear you may not be able to contain us. WE may end up eating you up just because we seek our own preservation or expansion; it has its own autonomy (after all, it does); they could have delivered a legeal document with integrity. they failed. The US and Can. governments will only heal this injury by compensating the victims from the heart. Don’t think you don’t need the healin’ as bad as the Tribes. Take a look at the mess we’re all in!

    If you try to sell snow to an eskimo, he’s gonna say “what kind of snow”, right? Because there are like, 21 different kinds, to his mind. And one is good and one isn’t good. maybe you have 20 kinds he knows no self- respecting person would bother with. Therefore, the snow you are offering HAS to be the one good kind he does want. But you don’t know that, because to you, SNOW IS SNOW. So you sell him a load of crappy construction material.

    I think what the indigenous people wer hoping for as a result of signing (or WAMPUMING) “X” agreement, was that any threat that the whites posed to them would cease, as in “OK, we give these fellas a nice piece of land, and any threat they would pose to us is contstrained”.

    Surely that couldn’t have meant the same thing to the white people. “What? Once I have my piece of land, I can’t AT LEAST CROSS Tribal boundaries while engaging in travel or trade or migration or military maneuvers? or any other business”

    The Tribes were hoping for an agreement that would limit the white threat and the whites wanted an agreemtn that limited reprisals on anything that might otherwise (but for a treaty) resemble any threat. TRADE activity NOTWITHSTANDING.

    Regardless whether Europeans knew they were going to keep on coming and need ever more space, for ever, the treaties are not worth the paper they were penned on. maybe the well-educated Government treaty-penners didn’t realize that North American nations didn’t conceive of white populations getting really big and eventually threaten their way of life. But we all know that whites were banking on importing friendly manpower if they couldn’t breed it here. they never said anything about that, and honest to God, that alone could affect the validity of a treaty just like an act of God can affect one’s fortunes even when one is “insured”.

    none of the treaties stated; “there are other white people stomping around these parts and elsewhere that might not care about any papers we signed and we might not have any jusrisdiction over those people, and also we have gazillions of people elsewhere that might decide to come on in and, you know, cut some trees down, put some fences up, upset some ecosystems and generally liven up the cultural landscape; even at the very least there is the almost certain possibility that our population experiment and natural resource extraction may ultimately threaten to destroy of your way of life. Now that would have given the Natives a reason to head for an Oxford
    education prior to signing. they would have loved the history lesson on “Enclosure”.

    When I agree to pay $9.99 for HBO on my cable bill I’m not surprised to see $14.99 when they issue my statement because I DIDNT READ the part about the taxes and licensing fees or what have you. See what I am saying? They SHOULD have told me up front “$14.99!!! But at least, in my case I COuLD have known, because at least it was in the agreement – I just didn’t read it so shame on me. Back then, they couldn’t have known and who was gonna tell them? The guy who writes the treaty text? The provincial govt? Oh gosh….

    I realize that we’re all inexorably drawn into this vortex of change. Ultimately it’s nobody’s fault. But come on! I don’t have a drop of indigenous blood but I know there’s a rat in the language of the treaties – by comission or omission. And I may not have said it so well, but what I have said here is worthy as a point of departure at the very least regarding any of the white man’s ridiculous “legal” agreements with people who make “wampum” ones. Others can flesh it out where I have failed.

    REPLY
  • Hoofstep
    December 27, 2013, 11:06 pm

    I did a double post – accidentally posted this on an unintended page. this is where I wanted it. Bottom line my statement is that all treaties must be considered invalid and a new conversation regarding a Nation having a territory be initiated.
    But that’s only my little pipe dream unless you sit on the plot and refuse to move. That might actually get you some attention, Six Nations.

    REPLY
  • Hoofstep
    December 27, 2013, 11:02 pm

    I think what the indigenous people expected as a result of these treaties was that if they made X agreement, then the promise was that they would no longer EVER have to suffer the presence of white men in their space. So they could never have been fair, either expressed or implied. The Europeans knew they were going to keep on coming and need ever more space, for ever. Where in any treaty does it consider this eventuality? Well, maybe the white folks didn’t know that the Tribes didn’t understand that white population was going to get really big and eventually threaten their way of life. It’s probably not even in the fine print. I mean, at least when I agree to pay $9.99 for HBO on my cable bill I KNOW I have to expect hidden charges to bump that number up to $14.99 because I DIDNT READ the part about the taxes and licensing fees or what have you. See what I am saying? I KNOW it’s gonna happen (and I’m STILL gonna cancel THAT purchase). But nobody said in a Treaty that; “there are other white people stomping around these parts that might not care about any papers we signed and we might not have any jusrisdiction over those people, and also we have gazillions of people elsewhere that might decide to come on in and, you know, cut some trees down, put some fences up, upset some ecosystems and generally liven up the cultural landscape; at the least there is the almost certain possibility that European expansion may ultimately threaten the destruction of your way of life and maybe your environment as well”. So Gary Horsnell do you see how the withheld or unforeseen aspect of any and all treaties might render them therefore invalid? I know we could language it some way that questions the integrity of the Haudenosaunee, but that will never change the fact that there was only one population on the continent whose cultural perspective was grounded in opportunism, and it’s no surprise that what is NOT EVEN implied in the treaties says more about whose integrity could be called into question.

    I’m not so well-spoken especially when I spew off the top of my head, but what I have said here is worthy as a point of departure at the very least regarding any of the white man’s ridiculous “legal” agreements with people who make “wampum” ones.

    REPLY
    • shawna@Hoofstep
      August 8, 2014, 6:15 pm

      Please stop being racist..we “white men” are just as upset about our struggle of your entitlement. We pay taxes schooling etc and work very hard to have half our pay cheques taxed and also pay more taxes when there is a native issue. Who do you yhink pays for all that….so stop

      REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    December 19, 2013, 4:28 am

    I still don’t get it. Why is Brant County consulting with the Six Nations of the Grand River?

    In 1701, twenty chiefs from the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy (League) signed the Albany (Nanfan) Treaty. In that treaty, the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois surrendered land they had conquered, including land in what is now the U.S.A. and land in what is now southwestern Ontario and along the Grand River, to their “great Lord and Master the King of England” and according to that treaty “for ever quit claime” to that land on condition Five (later Six) Nations people could hunt on that land “forever”.
    Source: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875″ U. S. Serial Set, Number 4015 beginning at page 552.

    It seems Six Nations people think that 1701 Albany (Nanfan) Treaty is valid because the Six Nations Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority (HWHA) and Six Nations hunters are now using it to justify hunting deer in public parks around southwestern Ontario and they say it has been confirmed by the Ontario government and in Ontario courts.

    After the American revolution, Quebec Governor Haldimand bought a huge tract of land in what is now southwestern Ontario, including land along the Grand River, from the Ojibwa Mississauga Indians and they sold and ceded that land to the Crown at a meeting a Fort Niagara on May 22, 1784.
    Source: Indian Treaties and Surrenders, 1891 (reprinted 1996) Queens Printer, Volume 1, item number 3, page 5.

    Crown officials, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. Six Nations Indian chiefs, Delaware Indian chiefs and Mississauga Indian chiefs were at that meeting and they all agreed with the sale of that land to the Crown so the land became the Crown’s land.

    About six months later, Quebec Governor Haldimand issued an announcement on October 25, 1784 inviting Mohawks and others of the Six Nations from New York to take possession of (occupy) the Crown’s land along the Grand River.

    Some people say Haldimand’s October 25, 1784 announcement (document, instrument) is a proclamation or a treaty or a deed. It is none of those things.

    In fact, in the 1835 Jackson v. Wilkes court case, a King’s Bench justice said the October 25, 1784 Haldimand document was a “mere license of occupation”.
    Source: Jackson v. Wilkes, 1835; Upper Canada King’s Bench, (O.S. 142).

    In other words, it was a license for Six Nations people to occupy and use, not own, the Crown’s land along the Grand River.

    In addition, in the 1974 Isaac et al v. Davey et al court case, which was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada, it was made quite clear who owns the Haldimand tract along the Grand River when the judge said “Since I have concluded that the tract in question is vested in the Crown”.
    Source: Isaac et al v. Davey et al, Ontario Court of Appeal, 1974.

    And perhaps governor Haldimand couldn’t give the Six Nations the land along the Grand River as a separate, sovereign state when the Five (later Six) Nations had “for ever quit claime” to that land according to the 1701 Albany (Nanfan) Treaty.

    In I793, Governor Simcoe offered the Six Nations of the Grand River a letter patent, a deed, to land along the Grand River with a condition Six Nations people could only dispose of land along the Grand back to the Crown.
    Source: Johnston, C. M., 1964; The Valley of the Six Nations, Champlain Society, Publications, Printed Publications, page 73 also Isaac et al v. Davey et al, Ontario Court of Appeal, 1974: Appendix C, Simcoe Patent.

    Continued below

    REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    December 19, 2013, 4:27 am

    Continued from above

    Later at various times, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and various groups of Six Nations chiefs surrendered use of various parcels of the Crown’s land along the Grand River back to the Crown for sale.

    In the 2009 Holme’s report to Justice Arrell in the Brantford injunction court case, Holmes shows with references that 45 chiefs from the Six Nations of the Grand River agreed to surrender Six Nations use of the Johnson settlement, the Martin settlement, the Eagle’s Nest tract and the Oxbow tract around Brantford Ontario to the Crown for sale in 1844. Holmes shows with references that Six Nations chiefs also agreed to surrender use of the Burtch tract and eventually ended up with the current reserve south of Brantford around 1850.
    Source: 2009 Holmes report to Justice Harrison Arrell in the Brantford injunction court case.

    In many cases when the Six Nations chiefs surrendered the Six Nations use of tracts of the Crown’s land along the Grand River to the Crown for sale, the Crown said it would make sure the money from the land sales would be put into a trust fund to help run the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve.

    The Six Nations now alleges that money from those land sales was not always put into the trust fund. The Six Nations alleges the Crown mismanaged the trust fund and the Six Nations alleges the Crown borrowed money from the trust fund without paying the money back.

    In 1995, the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council took its claims and the Crown to court. The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council is the plaintiff. The Canadian federal government (the big Crown) and the Ontario government (the little Crown) are the defendants. No one else has standing in that court case. That includes any municipality, the traditional Six Nations Confederacy Council, any Six Nations activist group or any other group of natives or non natives.

    The Ontario government (the little Crown) has said it stands by its land titles system. The Canadian federal government (the big Crown) and the Ontario government (the little Crown) have both said they will not expropriate third-party land to give to the Six Nations in settlement of any Six Nations claim.

    The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council now has 28 claims. The land itself belonged to the Crown so the Six Nations can’t claim the land. The Six Nations claims are about money and the Canadian federal government (the big Crown) alone is responsible for paying the money to settle any valid Six Nations claim.

    Furthermore, in the 2004 Haida case, the Supreme Court of Canada said “Third parties cannot be held liable for failing to discharge the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate. The honour of the Crown cannot be delegated, and the legal responsibility for consultation and accommodation rests with the Crown”.

    Only the Canadian federal government (the big Crown) and the Ontario government (the little Crown) are now considered the Crown in Canada.

    Brant County has no standing in the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council’s 1995 court case. Brant County is not the Crown. Brant County is a third party and it is not obliged to consult with, accommodate or make deals with any Six Nations group.

    So why is Brant County mayor Ron Eddy consulting with Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council chief Ava Hill and the Six Nations of the Grand River about a proposed land deal between Brant County and the City of Brantford?

    REPLY
    • Garry Horsnell@Garry Horsnell
      December 19, 2013, 9:28 am

      By the way, when the Supreme Court of Canada said “The honour of the Crown cannot be delegated, and the legal responsibility for consultation and accommodation rests with the Crown”, why is Brant County consulting and why isn’t the Ontario government (the little Crown) consulting with the Six Nations of the Grand about the land the City of Brantford wants from Brant County if there is a need to consult?

      And where does Brant Liberal MPP Dave Levac stand on the issue?

      REPLY

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