Cayugas draw line in sand for Haldimand planners

CAYUGA – Cayuga town planners ran into a room full of objections to the proposed abandoning of a plot of land, which lies between the Cayuga Courthouse and the River.

Documents provided to the Haldimand planners by Wilf Davie and a delegation from the Men’s Fire, show that the land once gifted to the fledgling town of Cayuga by the Cayuga Nation, was for specific purposes only.

The city planners want to build a new administrative headquarters there but to do so, they would have to abandon the land in question first to relieve itself of certain encumbrances. The problem is, this was land gifted for specific usage and if it is to be abandoned, people are saying it should go back to the original land holders, the Cayugas of the Haudenosaunee Nation of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

Last Thursday, a delegation from the Men’s Fire challenged Haldimand council on several points, among which was the Haldimand Deed itself, which states the underlying land title is Six Nations Six Nations owned and should be returned to the Cayuga Nations once it concludes the purpose for which it was gifted.

Davie spoke to the meeting of around 80 residents and Six Nations delegation members at the Cayuga Kinsman Hall.

He read from a letter, which he gave to the chairman of the meeting representing Haldimand Council, saying, “This land was gifted to the town of Cayuga but now you want to abandoned it. I am here to tell you this piece of property will remain with us along with its contents intact as such.”

The historical documents spell out that there were certain restrictions of use of the land “gift” to settler government and that Haldimand is either not being considered, or purposefully forgotten.

“I’d like to remind this community and others that the municipality has a duty to consult,” he continued. “But who is to consulted with. The Crown must consult directly with the Haudenosaunee with intention to meeting its duty to consult and accommodate and to ensure that appropriate consultation and accommodation measures are carried out. The Crown cannot delegate or relegate its responsibilities towards Treaty Rights.

Davie read from a government document regarding consultation to underpin his presentation.

In the documents left for Haldimand’s consideration were 13 cases in court regarding duty to consult, but only pointed out a few for the live audience.

There is an onus to Haudenosaunee communities to make their concerns known, according to the protocol, and that is just what Davie and the Men’s Fire are doing.

Davie spoke of the violation of treaty rights, the duty to consult, particularly referring to federal court rulings that reprimand municipalities and provincial agencies for not following proper policies.

He referred to institutional racism by assuming they can just go ahead without consultation required, and other points of law.

“It is apparent to the Men’s Fire that the violation of treaty rights under land use and its fiduciary rights to the Haudenosaunee as well as the reminder of Two Row Wampum should occur,” said Davie.

“We could have done this in other ways but we wanted you to know that we know about these gifted properties that you want to abandon, we have the rightful title to the land in question,” said Davie. “The land was gifted to this town freely and if you don’t want it, give it back.”

When he finished, there was applause from about 80 native and non-native Cayuga residents opposed to the plan for their own reasons. Most wanted to leave the property as it is.

One resident reminded council of the wording of the official plan, which says it is up to the residents what to do with the land, not the mayor, or developers or council or city planners.

“It says residents,” he said to more applause.

Another resident stated he would not stand for Haldimand to relinquishing the right to that land at all.

The minutes from that meeting will be taken back to Haldimand Council with a recommendation based, supposedly, on the wishes of “the people.”

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