OHSWEKEN – With lawsuits and other legal bantering flying around Six Nations about the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) and its finances, Six Nations Bill Monture and Wilfred Davie recently launched a class action against Aaron Detlor, Hazel Hill, Brian Doolittle and Elvera Garlow, board members of the HDI or its numbered corporate entities.
“Months ago, a lot of people in the community wanted to know about what kind of deals HDI had made with developers or proponents,” says Monture who along with Davie are members of the Men’s Fire. “We wanted to know who was on payroll, what they were being paid and for doing what.”
They are also very concerned about the long-range ramifications of forming two corporations to handle the finances for the HDI.
There is case law, which stirs their concern further. In one such case it was stated, “A corporation is not an Indian even if wholly owned by Indians and land held under this section by a corporation may be taxed under provincial law.” Regarding what is and is not an Indian, the law also states; “A corporation wholly owned by registered Indians is not an Indian within the meaning of the Act.”
“We heard that the HDI and its corporations were picking their own board members and that’s just not right,” says Monture. “They should have gone to the community and asked the community if they wanted to be a part of it.”
Looking back on how HDI was supposed to be, the people in charge were only to be there temporarily. That’s why Hill has been, until recently, called the interim director of the HDI.
They were to go to the community and invite people to come and apply for those roles to ensure the board was as broad based as possible to represent a broader cross-section of the community.
That never happened despite being challenged to do so many times.
“People have gone to the HDI seeking answers and documents, which they have been denied,” says Monture. “They talk about being transparent but are anything but.”
According to Monture their lawyer has even asked for a meeting to discuss the matter further with a mediator present, before it goes to court, but there has been no response from any of the defendants.
“Some people have said this action is in response to Aaron Detlor’s legal action against me and Lester (Green), but it’s not,” says Monture.
Detlor has taken Monture and Lester Green to court on allegations of assault, which occurred when Detlor was physically removed from his office by members of the Men’s Fire. This case is still making its way through the system.
Why is this class action measure necessary? Monture believes that if the HDI won’t open itself to the community on its own, the lawsuit will force them to reveal it in Canadian court.
“If he want’s to talk I’m open to that,” says Monture. “But I will take it to the nines if I have to.”
The action being put forward by the Monture and Davie is a class action, which anyone can join. If the action is successful, the men insist there will be no money changing hands, but it will force open the files the HDI has been keeping closed.
“It’s not about the money,” insists Monture. “It’s about stopping what they are doing down there.”