Six Nations of the Grand River (SNGR) Elected Council held its first-ever annual general meeting last week but a breakdown of the community’s finances was not on the agenda.
Elected Chief Mark Hill said the financial statements will be available within the next few weeks.
The much-anticipated AGM last Thursday instead focused on council’s activities in the past four years, with this current term coming to a close this fall.
Much of the past four years in this council’s term has been spent responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Hill said.
SNGR received $27 million in funds to combat the pandemic, the community learned, that was spent on hiring staff, providing relief funds to community members and businesses, and building infrastructure to test and treat community members.
Elected Council still has about $3.36 million remaining from the $27.7 million in Covid funding they received.
The community lost 25 members to the Covid-19 virus and a moment of silence was held in their memory.
“We had a tremendous amount of loss during Covid,” said Hill. “It was a really tough time for our community.”
Six Nations kept the virus at bay for a few months into the spring of 2020, partly by closing down all entrances to the reserve and paying community members to man each entrance, or “checkpoint” before opening the community back up to outside traffic and visitors in June 2020.
“It was a huge undertaking,” said Hill. “There were many challenges at that time. It showed who we were and how we came together.”
He said council spent about 80 percent of its time responding to the pandemic in those early days.
“We were able to continue on a few other things, as well,” said Elected Chief Hill. “I don’t think we got to move on as much as we wanted to because of the pandemic.”
One of the projects elected council moved forward with was the cannabis portfolio, passing the controversial Six Nations Cannabis Control Law in the spring of 2021.
The passage of that law sparked a protest in front of Six Nations Police headquarters, with physical confrontations between community members and police and a few minor injuries.
“Our goal and our job in passing the Cannabis Control Law was always, and still is today, all about the health and safety of the products,” said Hill. “There’s a lot of work that still has to be done from industry.”
Elected Council also created a new department this term: a Mother Earth department, focusing on environmental issues.
SNGR also responded to the residential school burial crisis in 2021 that brought to light the existence of countless numbers of hidden graves found at the former government-sponsored boarding schools for Indigenous children across Canada aimed at assimilating them into colonial culture.
Elected Council, in response, helped create the Six Nations Survivors’ Secretariat, said the elected Chief.
The Secretariat is an organization overseen by residential school survivors and has been tasked to help search for potential hidden graves on the grounds surrounding the former Mohawk Institute in Brantford, where thousands of Six Nations children attended until the church-run school closed down in 1971.
Hill also mentioned council’s implementation of a new structural re-organization with a new meeting schedule and the assignment of portfolios for each councillor.