OHSWEKEN — Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Chief Mark Hill sent a letter to municipalities along the Haldimand Tract, saying the elected council is the only entity with the legal ability to enter into consultation and accommodation discussions for projects affecting Six Nations.
The letter, issued on July 11, invites municipalities to engage with Six Nations to advance reconciliation and development but says that those talks must exclusively be had with the elected council of the Six Nations of the Grand River — and no one else.
The letter comes, as the chief says confusion is being solicited along the Haldimand Tract by provincial staffers directing municipal leaders and developers that they must seek accommodations with multiple entities including Six Nations, Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council Chiefs via the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.
This, he says, is bad information.
“Certain provincial officials have created confusion for municipalities and developers within the Haldimand Tract concerning whom they must consult with when development is proposed in our territory. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed and recognized the elected Chief and Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River as the only legitimate government of our Nation. The law is clear that it is the elected government of the Six Nations of the Grand River with whom any consultation concerning development in the Haldimand Tract must occur,” writes Chief Hill.
“The elected Chief and Council of Six Nations of the Grand River are uniquely accountable to the SNGR community, and our deliberations and governance are marked by transparency. We report and are answerable to our community members. For this reason, consultation processes or discussion may not be held without prior consent, awareness, and involvement of our Chief and Council,” writes Chief Hill. “No outside official or proponent may engage with any organization or individual that has neither legal standing nor accreditation by SNGR.”
The letter comes as towns, cities, and institutions along the Tract look to take steps toward reconciliation, and engage in creating land acknowledgments and other policies to recognize the land rights of indigenous people — while Six Nations is struggling through a season of political polarization and extremes internally.
Chief Hill acknowledged the diverse political beliefs on the territory and said that there are people within the provincial system — who are not Six Nations members — who are giving out bad information, advising people to disregard the legal processes for consultation on Six Nations matters and are instead inserting their own directions on what consultation should include. That, the Chief says, is inappropriate, and harms the community — adding to internal political strife.
“Six Nations of the Grand River is vibrant and diverse, and as a political community is indivisible. We hold our traditional leadership in high regard, maintaining ties of respect and frequent communication. But our reverence for their position and our traditions must not be used against us by external parties,” writes Chief Hill. “It would be unacceptable interference in our affairs if external bodies to engage in parallel discussions outside of the SNGR process. For municipalities, provincial officials or proponents to hold separate parallel discussions or consultation processes would not only divide our people but undermine the principle of governmental accountability in our community. The very idea creates suspicion and is seen as a ‘divide and conquer’ approach.”
The Chief says SNGR will be meeting with provincial authorities to insist the confusion is cleared up and that no one at the provincial level is directing developers or municipalities to consult with anyone other than SNGR on Six Nations matters along the Haldimand Tract.