Chief Hill explains the $120 million casino deal
OHSWEKEN – What will the Brantford casino deal mean to Six Nations and what did it cost? Two big questions regarding what could be a huge financial boon to Six Nations.
Although the final few weeks of hammering out a new deal with Six Nations have been hectic, Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill and others have been lobbying in that direction for a very long time.
The persistence has paid off with a no prejudice, multi-million-dollar deal that costs Six Nations nothing in return.
“I have been complaining about us not getting anything from that casino ever since I became a member of this council, that’s 13 years,” said Hill.
According to her, that issue has been part of her tool-kit, which is brought up whenever and wherever she is in position to do so.
“You look in the Brantford paper and you see every three months Brantford city is getting another infusion of $800,000 or so because they are the ‘host city,’” she said, “and we’re not getting anything.”
The opportunity arose when Ontario sold off some of its Casino interests.
“Then when I saw they were packaging up this bundle which includes Brantford, Mohawk, Flamborough, Elora, to private interests, I said, they have to come to us before they do that, because we have a valid claim there.”
After years of playing the shell game, being referred to other levels of government only to be sent elsewhere, Six Nations has finally secured a deal where the community will be benefited by $120 million throughout the next 20-years and without sacrificing or interfering with the existing land claim to the Gage Tract in any way.
“It was all fast and furious in the end getting it done, but we have been working on it for a long time,” said Hill.
The deal includes a one-time payment of $12.5 million, and then $4.5 million per year for the next 20 years. On top of that, if Six Nations ever wants to build its own, that can be done as well.
And about the federal land claim? By securing this deal, the Province is formally acknowledging that Six Nations does, in fact, still own the land the Casino is built on. That could be precedent setting in other land claims files as well.
Confederacy Chief Allan McNaughton has voiced concern that the Confederacy was not consulted in the deal at all and therefor is not binding on them.
“I don’t know what that means,” said Hill. “But I think the Casino deal is a good-news story for the entire community.”
The Confederacy considers land use within the eight points of jurisdiction demanded by the Confederacy Chiefs years ago as the first step towards any co-relationship with the Elected Band Council. This demand has never been dealt with by the Elective System.
Exactly where this money will be spent will be the topic of special meeting of the senior staff at Band Council and a protocol will be set as to how this money can be accessed in ways that will benefit the entire community and not some individuals.
Maybe a detox treatment centre, housing, emergency funding, funding for seniors,” projects Hill. “Maybe steps towards our own justice system. Who knows, but whatever it is, it will benefit the entire community.”