Deadline approaching for intervenors in Six Nations’ mammoth land claim case

Any groups wishing to participate in Six Nations’ litigation against the Crown in its monumental land claims case dating back to 1995, when it was first filed, have until Feb. 3 to apply.

Three known groups have already stepped in asking to be part of the proceedings, claiming an interest in the almost one-million-acre Haldimand Tract, which Six Nations claims was wrongfully ceded from them without its consent since the lands were granted to “the Mohawks and such others” under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.

A court has decided anyone who wishes to argue their reasons to intervene in the case and be added to the roster of plaintiffs will be heard beginning May 8, 2023, for four days.

Six Nations initiated the lawsuit against the federal government in 1995, saying that after 1784, the British Crown, along with federal and provincial governments, failed to set aside the lands for the enjoyment of the Mohawks and such others and improperly sold most of the lands to settlers, while mismanaging the proceeds of the sales.

Today, the Six Nations of the Grand River people are living on less than five per cent of the original 950,000-acre land grant.

The Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) was the first to file as an intervenor in the land claims case, saying it was the rightful steward over the lands in question.

Next came the Six Nations Men’s Fire and then, the neighbouring Mississuagas of the Credit First Nation.

That First Nation is applying to be a plaintiff in what could be the biggest land claim lawsuit settlement in Canadian history saying the parts of the Haldimand Deed territory cover MCFN’s traditional territory, as well.

The suit seeks answers to what happened to Six Nations land along the Grand River and any monies or proceeds the government obtained from those land transactions.

Lonny Bomberry, director of Six Nations Lands and Resources, says the intervenors are applying out of pure “greed.”

The massive land rights case could be the biggest land claim settlement in Canadian history, with some estimates putting the dollar amount in the trillions, and is expected to be heard sometime in 2024. The case was supposed to be heard in September 2022, and was pushed to 2023, and will now be heard in 2024, according to Bomberry, who said the province of Ontario is not equipped to defend its position in the case.

Bomberry said SNGR elected council will “vigorously” defend its position as the sole plaintiff in the land rights case, which seeks an accounting of lands the Crown granted to the “Mohawks and such others” as part of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, consisting of six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to source.

Any amount awarded to Six Nations, he said, would be for the benefit of all the people in the community, not just elected council.

The HDI applied in September to be an intervenor in the case on behalf of the HCCC, citing the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) as the true governing body of Six Nations and all Haudenosaunee people in both Canada and the United States.

Bomberry has said the case is more of a monetary accounting case rather than a land claim case, as Six Nations seeks an accounting of monies associated with the sales and leases of its land without its consent.

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