Glebe Lands jurisdictional issues, property being destroyed by ATVs and trespassers ahead of unmarked grave searches

A Six Nations man who lives in Brantford says he was left without assistance after he was assaulted at the Glebe Lands by trespassers who he attempted to educate about the importance of the land.

Alex Jamieson, told TRT that he regularly visits the Glebe to walk his dogs, and says that he has seen trouble on the ground that is escalating.

Used IV needles, discarded naloxone kits, homeless camps, motor oil disposed of on the territory and an increasing presence of dirt bikes, ATVs and 4×4 trucks all entering the reserve lands with no accountability for what is going on within its borders.

The Glebe Lands are technically considered reserve land, and are a part of the Six Nations territory. The property was a part of the Mohawk Institute Residential School grounds and are a part of the planned grounds search for unmarked graves. In 2022, Six Nations Survivors Secretariat lead Kimberly Murray, now Special Interlocutor for Unmarked Graves, said the Six Nations investigation was planning to search the Glebe Lands for those unrecovered burial sites.

Jamieson has been increasingly frustrated with the behaviour of people he says are predominantly settlers, trespassing onto the Glebe with no knowledge of its importance to the Six Nations.

“It’s incredibly disrespectful. There’s archeological issues, there are burials, there’s wetlands,” said Jamieson.

Jamieson says he called Six Nations Police when ATV drivers threatened his life at one of the entrance gates the Glebe and ran one of their vehicles at his dog during a confrontation. He told them to leave, they refused – and told him to call the police.

So he did. That call went to Six Nations Police, who said that since the altercation was on the roadway the protocol was to pass the call over to OPP who then in turn contacted Brantford Police.

Jamieson said that no one came to answer the call, so he left the Glebe, and that a Brantford Police officer did come to his house 8 hours later to follow up.

This, he says, is the problem. No one is protecting the Glebe.

“They know the police won’t show up,” said Jamieson, who said he notified both Six Nations Elected Council and HDI about the motor oil dumping on the property. He got no response from HDI, and said SNGR suggested they could install no trespassing signs.

“I was threatened with death. One biker came inches from me and actually did hit my dog,” said Jamieson.

When he spoke with Brantford Police, and tried to explain where the altercation, dumping, encampments and property damage were located on the site — he says he was shocked that the officers had no knowledge of the layout of the property.

So he did some reaching out to Six Nations Police and found that the property is a known jurisdictional loophole — covered by an agreement between Six Nations Police and Brantford Police that was sorted out in 2012 but has not been updated in a decade.

That agreement outlines that when urgent matters arise on the Glebe, the Brantford Police will respond and notify Six Nations Police of the incident. In an email to TRT, Six Nations Police Deputy Chief Tim Bomberry said, “If the matter requires further investigation or the laying of criminal charges the Six Nations Police reserve the right to take carriage of the investigation and any subsequent charges.”

“The Brantford Police Service has agreed to respond to any incidents on the Glebe Land located within the City of Brantford, reserve the right to transfer any investigation that occurred on the Glebe Land to the Six Nations Police, provide reasonable assistance as may be requested by the Six Nations Police and to immediately notify the Six Nations Police of any major incidents ( homicides, robbery, assaults of any nature, political protests, motor vehicle collisions resulting in serious or fatal injuries and incidents involving bodily harm),” wrote Bomberry.

But when it comes to issues like motor oil dumping, ATVs trespassing and destroying the grounds or illicit drug use and squatters on the territory — that is a more complicated issue to deal with.

The property is reserve land, so any trespassing laws, charges or other issues would not be treated the same as they would on any other property within Brantford’s city limits.

So who is protecting the Glebe?

The Glebe Lands were a part of the parish lands connected to the Mohawk Institute Residential School as it was part of the New England Company’s Mission properties.

According to historical documents, in the early years of the school the property was used by the students for farming and the funds from the sale of goods grown were there used by the school.

Later, in 1922, the property was legally identified by Duncan Campbell Scott, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, as belonging to the Six Nations Indian Band and rented out to farmers with funds from the lease going to the Six Nations Council.

The lands were part of a contentious feud between Six Nations and Brantford from the mid 1970s all the way to 2019 when Brantford city officials wanted to build a roadway through the property. That plan was abandoned officially when the city declared it would never again include the Glebe Lands in any transportation plans.

It was also the site of a cholera gravesite — something that concerned historians when the city was looking to disturb the grounds as cholera could potentially have been reactivated if those graves were exposed.

Google Earth images of the Glebe are a sad sight to see. From space, the general public can see the damage squatters and trespassers have done to the site and it is extensive. Significant damage to the fields from vehicles, garbage piles, and more can be seen.

Jamieson says he is not sure what the solution is, but says perhaps a community monitoring team of guardians can start keeping tabs on what is going on around the Glebe. He says until then — people keep showing up without a care of what the property means historically and currently to Six Nations — and there is no way to stop them.

Bomberry says that in terms of police coverage for the property, they are in the process of updating that patrolling agreement for the Glebe Lands. Chief of Police Darren Montour has spoken to Brantford Police Chief Rob Davis, who is also a Six Nations band member and understands the history and complexity of the issues around the Glebe Lands, have spoken and are working on a solution to ensure the property is more closely monitored and that jurisdictional complications are resolved.

“Since the incident, we have advised our officer, that should calls for service allow, have a patrol vehicle attend the Glebe Land and walk around it, educating any persons there in the process, that the land there is Six Nations jurisdiction and any criminal activity on the land will be dealt with accordingly. We do not want [anyone] to be harassed on the land.”

But in terms of protecting the integrity of the property — so far no political engagement has taken place. TRT reached out to both Six Nations Elected Council and the City of Brantford for comment. No response was received by press time from SNGR and Brantford declined to comment, saying it was a police issue.

“The City of Brantford is not in a position to comment on the MOU between Six Nations Police and Brantford Police Services,” said Communications Director Maria Visocchi via email.

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