OHSWEKEN — It has been a seven week long journey that this week resulted in a warning: leave the lawn or legal action will commence.
In a statement posted to their social media accounts the Six Nations Elected Council said if protesters obstructing access to the community’s Central Administration building do not pack up and leave — SNEC will seek an injunction.
The statement says “a Sherriff, representing the Six Nations Elected Council went to the Administration Building on July 15, 2019 to provide notice to the protestors that injunction proceedings were being initiated if they did not evacuate the site. An injunction is a legal order to stop a person from continuing an action that threatens or invades the legal rights of another person. While we all have the legal right to freedom of speech, it is unlawful to obstruct anyone from entering a public space while practicing their freedom of speech.”
One of the protesters and a named defendant in the claim, Rhonda Martin, posted pictures of the claim for people to leave the lawn on social media. The claim seeking an injunction names Laurel Curley, Colleen Davis, Micheal Aaron Steven Davis, Robert Paul Davis, Gary Johnson, Joleen Johnson, Colin Martin, Rhonda Martin, Bruce Smith, Dawn Smith, Jane Doe, John Doe and other persons unknown.
Rhonda Martin, Colin Martin, Colleen Davis, Gary Johnson, Joleen Johnson were also being sued for another injunction by Hydro One this month as named defendants accused of obstructing the Niagara Reinforcement Project.
Rhonda Martin is also facing assault charges in connection to the protests — after she allegedly hit SNEC SAO Dayle Bomberry during an altercation outside the Central Administration building.
According to SNEC’s statement community members have reached out to the elected council to take action to end the protest, allow public access to the Central Administration building and remove people from the property. SNEC says they attempted to resolve the protests and end them during meetings with the HCCC in June. Those efforts did not lead to protesters removing blockades from the building.
“Some of the Six Nations Elected Councillors, support staff and other community-based organizations have gone to the protest site in attempts to find a peaceful resolution. All attempts were unsuccessful. The injunction notice is another effort to peacefully address community frustrations. The Six Nations Elected Council will continue working with the HCCC in an attempt to resolve these longstanding community concerns even if the protestors are not on site,” says the statement.
Originally a group of about 25 people rallied out front of the Central Administration building on May 27 — preventing anyone from accessing the building.
The group says the action was done in solidarity with nationwide protests against the federal government’s Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework.
Demonstrators put up posters on the Elected Council building’s sign calling Six Nations Elected Council Chief Ava Hill and Senior Administrative Officer Dayle Bomberry “traitors”.
TRT was on the scene to speak with those in attendance, however they declined an interview.
Several videos were posted of the protests to social media one showing an unidentified man shouting “you work for us motherf**ker” at Elected Councillor Melba Thomas while the crowd surrounding her laughs.
By Monday evening protesters had distributed letters saying they were seeking the Elected Council to formally recognize the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council as the legitimate government of Six Nations of the Grand River.
No clear objective was asserted as to why the group was preventing access to the building. One of the people supporting the action said that there were several concerns from community members that they wanted to have addressed — including SAO Bomberry’s employment, an ongoing soil dumping issue, opposition to the community’s cannabis law and requesting a meeting with the entire Elected Council along with Chief Hill and Bomberry.
Weeks later Six Nations Fire Chief Matt Miller held a press conference saying demonstrations outside the Central Administration building have impacted the ability for First Responders to acquire relief staff — leaving Six Nations Fire and Emergency Services employees exhausted with no relief, and leaving Six Nations coping with a public safety risk.
“These tensions have been in the community for 95 years, and will continue to be present as long as the conversations remain silent. But true and meaningful dialogue cannot be undertaken under possible threat,” says the statement from SNEC. “All leaders need the space to make decisions for the future of the community with a good mind and without threat of retaliatory consequences. The time has truly arrived to work together in unity toward a community free of continual conflict and with the understanding that we are all Haudenosaunee.”