OTTAWA — Six Nations Elected Chief Mark Hill confronted Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller on an open mic at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly last week — in front of the Prime Minister — berating the Minister for turning a personal visit to Six Nations to into a closed door meeting with the Haudenosaunee Development Institute — without advising the elected council that the Minister would be coming to the community.
Chief Hill told the Minister that it was another divide and conquer tactic for him to attend the community and not inform the elected council or the community that the meeting would be taking place, given that the Chief and council are the elected leaders of the community.
Hill was informed that the Minister met with members of the hereditary leadership and HDI in a closed door meeting, and said that the Minister had no right to attend the community and interfere in governance issues that are internal to the Six Nations community
“As many of you are aware six nations has been in a battle to deal with our lands for decades. We are finally in a time when we had a trial date. As many of you are also aware we have a hereditary council who we have never seen eye to eye,” said Chief Hill.
Hill said that he was not informed that the Minister was on Six Nations. And says he found out in a last minute text message — without proper notice or protocol to the elected council. “This undermines our community’s efforts to unite and work out internal governance matters in the light of the biggest court case of our people’s history.”
Hill was referring to a private visit the Minister made to “an old friend” as he posted on his social media channels November 17 a photo of him standing in the home of a Six Nations man and woman.
The Chiefs office says they later found out that the Minister was actually on the territory meeting with the HDI at one of the community longhouses. Something the Ministers office later confirmed.
“That type of behaviour and the same type of divide and conquer tactics that the government use against our people does not push us forward. It in fact, stalls us,” said Chief Hill.
“We have internal affairs that we need to figure out ourselves. We don’t need assistance from the Government of Canada to come in and to tell us otherwise or to meet with other entities. We need to do that on our own time, with our own people, in one room. And we don’t need the governments help to do that.”
Hill reprimanded the Minister before the entire AFN and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was also in attendance at the Special Assembly, and said that the Minister must abide by proper protocols and procedures when coming to indigenous peoples territories and not to interfere with internal governance matters, especially in high-stakes conflict situations such as the ongoing struggle between the elected leadership and hereditary leaders looking to the Crown to be reinstated and recognized as the true government — heading into Six Nations historic land claim case.
Chief Hill said, “Respectfully I ask that you continue to look at the protocols and procedures when coming to territories because it would have been nice to get notice from your office that you were in my territory meeting with other entities and not a last minute text message claiming it as notification. There are procedures that we are all well aware of. I have the utmost respect for our hereditary chiefs and clan mothers and will continue to do the work that we have to do amongst our people at Six Nations. We’re sick and tired of the divide and conquer and I’m here to state that message loud and clear.”
The crowd of Chiefs in assembly let out a roar of applause and cheers following Chief Hill’s reprimand to the Minister.
Minister Miller then went on to apologize to the Chief for his lack of notification and not following protocol.
“The context in which I met with Haudenosaunee chiefs and clan mothers was one when I was asked to meet without the elected chief and council and I agreed,” said Minister Miller. And said the meeting was to discuss “recent events in Caledonia”.
The Minister then went on to say that “the reality is, um, about a hundred years ago, the RCMP was sent in to disband the Haudenosaunee traditional leadership, and this was wrong. As you know this is something that impacts the community today and the feeling that Canada ‘only sides with band council’. I have a duty to respect all voices in communities and my duty is to indigenous peoples and I take that very seriously. The last thing I want to do is cause any turmoil in the community. What I said as part of those meetings will remain confidential but it was not a message of exclusion. Some of my words may not have been welcomed, but I said them truly and openly and I do mean them, and these are communications the will continue. Again, there is absolutely no intent to undermine, Canada has done enough of that, but I do undertake to give you proper notice going forward.”