The City of Brantford has halted work on an archaeological dig at the controversial Arrowdale property until representatives from Six Nations and Mississaugas of the Credit can be on-site to monitor the work.
Maria Visocchi, the city’s director of communications and community engagement, said the work was stopped so that field liaison representatives from both communities can be hired to monitor the dig, which is set to enter stage three when work resumes.
According to Ontario guidelines, a stage three dig is triggered after stage two soil samples reveal artifacts indicating the site could be of potential cultural and historical significance.
The Arrowdale property is a former golf course and large green space in Brantford that the city plans to use for the construction of affordable homes, while retaining a portion of the green space for a park.
However, there are city residents who oppose the construction of any homes on the property who have been waging a campaign to preserve the green space.
The group of residents, known as the Friends of Arrowdale, held a protest outside Brantford City Hall Monday objecting to the land use plans, while also slamming the city for not engaging local Indigenous communities during the archaeological digs.
Visocchi said in an e-mail to the Two Row Times that the archaeological firm Amick Consultants has been in contact with Six Nations and Mississaugas of the Credit (MCFN) but admitted field representatives have not been on site during the first two stages of the archaeological dig.
“The city continues working closely with Six Nations representatives as we have been since the project began. The work was halted until such a time that AMICK and the City, together with SNGR and MCFN can coordinate the participation of Field Liaison Representatives to oversee the archaeological activity related to this site,” Visocchi said.
Veronica Christine, a supporter of the campaign to save Arrowdale, posted in a Facebook group that she visited the dig site on Aug. 5 to inquire about the work. That’s when she learned no Indigenous representatives were on site. She said Six Nations’ archaeological coordinator, Tanya Hill-Montour, told Amick to halt the work until they could get representatives on site.
The stage three dig started Aug. 3. Amick employees admitted there were no Six Nations or Mississaugas of the Credit field monitors on site, she said.
She said the Amick employee explained that in his view, “there was some sort of miscommunication at the upper management level” which is a “poor excuse for not having reconciliation or any kind of Indigenous engagement.” He advised that the people who are responsible for engaging with the Indigenous communities are the Amick managing partners, Michael Henry and Marilyn Cornies, and the proponent, the City.
Henry would not answer questions from the Two Row Times and directed the paper to contact the city instead.
“As they are our client, we cannot release any information unless they consent to do so,” said Henry. “I can say that I am not aware of any stop work order and we voluntarily ceased work for the time being.”
The Arrowdale lands are under claim by Six Nations.
Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council confirmed in an email that contrary to a protocol with the City of Brantford, Six Nations was not notified about the Stage 3 archeological investigations that were occurring at the Arrowdale site, nor were Six Nations archeological experts invited to monitor the work being done.
Upon learning that these investigations were underway, Six Nations of the Grand River staff conducted a site visit and insisted the archeological work be paused until Six Nations archeological monitors could be brought in to oversee the processes in accordance with all applicable laws and agreements.
“Six Nations of the Grand River expects all City officials to duly comply with their obligations to our community on this project and in the future, and we will take all appropriate steps to defend our community’s historical, cultural, and economic interests,” SNGR said in an email to the Two Row Times.
Some of the Indigenous artifacts found to date include pottery and projectile points.