One of the most prominent figures in this year’s general election at Six Nations says he loves the community too much to “watch it go down the drain”.
That’s why he’s running for Chief in the November election.
“In the past four years, I haven’t been impressed with this council,” Williams said in an interview with the Two Row Times.
Steve Williams, one of two candidates for Six Nations Elected Council’s top spot as chief, says other than elected council’s recent annual general meeting this past August “nothing was done” by the current council.
Williams, who sat as the elected Chief in the late 90s, said he’s concerned about the council deficit and if one were to take into account the number of employees the band has swelled to – over 1,000 – he wonders where the money is coming from to pay them.
Which, he said, brings him another concern – ensuring band employees are paid properly and equitably.
He said he’s “talked to a lot of people” and the staff at Six Nations “isn’t too happy with this particular council” and that they aren’t being paid accordingly.
“Nobody’s watching this stuff and that really gets me uptight,” said Williams. “I’ve heard so many horror stories. I love this community too much. I’m not going to watch it go down the drain.”
In the meantime, Williams said he is glad to see Six Nations roads finally getting fixed.
He wants to continue to work in getting the whole community hooked up to the water system from the Ohsweken water treatment plant.
And as the president of Canada’s largest tobacco manufacturing firm, Grand River Enterprises, Williams says he will work to see the hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes the company gives the government every year to come back to Six Nations.
It’s a role he said he will take a leave of absence from if he gets elected.
Williams is also concerned about helping veterans and seniors get the benefits they deserve to live a comfortable life.
And since the Covid pandemic, Six Nations Elected Council has continued to meet via Zoom or online meetings and he plans to open the council chambers to the community once again.
“I think there should be more accountability, not just sit at home and get paid for two meetings a month,” he said.
Housing and establishing relationships with the federal and provincial governments are part of his platform as is getting the funding to build a private school for Kawennio/Gaweniyo language immersion school.
“I don’t understand why it hasn’t been funded to this date,” said Williams of the private language school.
During his term as chief in the 90s, Williams worked to secure funding for three local elementary schools and wants to help secure funding for a language school.
Williams also hopes to see a more cohesive council work together.
“What I’ve heard and seen, the councillors bully each other. I don’t want to see that.
You’re voting on something you don’t like that’s your opinion; move on to the next issue.”
Williams is also open to forging a relationship with the Six Nations Confederacy Chiefs Council, having been asked to be a traditional chief himself in his younger years, he said.
“I’ve been a member of Six Nations all my life, Mohawk Wolf clan. I was going to be a Mohawk chief, and that’s why I think I can do that.”
He said he wants the two councils to work together for what Six Nations “really needs. The government loves to see us separated.”
Williams said he has no issues with the Confederacy Chief’s Council’s Eight Points of Jurisdiction.
“If you want to be governing body, I have no problem with that. I would like to work together.”
However, Williams said, people have to vote for change.
“If you don’t vote you don’t have a right to complain.”
When Williams was elected chief he said council was in a $1.6 million deficit and during his term, the band came back into a surplus.
He said he has a “huge history” of community involvement on Six Nations.
Sherri-lyn Hill-Pierce, a current elected councillor who is competing with Williams for the Chief title, did not return requests for an interview by press time.