Indigenous voters obstructed on Six Nations, federal election poll moved to Oakland

SIX NATIONS — A polling station for Monday’s federal election for Six Nations and Mississaugas of the Credit residents was moved to Oakland on Monday after a group of individuals obstructed people from voting and insisted the federal polling station leave Six Nations.

The group, who said they were supporters of the hereditary chiefs and were there to execute a call put out by some hereditary chiefs and clan mothers to remove the polling station.

In an undated, unsigned letter that found its way across social media over the weekend, unnamed “chiefs and clan mothers” wrote that polling stations on the reserve was a violation of treaty rights and the nations human rights to exist as distinct peoples and are discouraging all Haudenosaunee people from participating in the vote.

The statement said that Haudenosaunee people were who participate in the vote are jeopardizing their Haudenosaunee identity — and that abstaining from participating in the election allows people to “remain in our circle where all our laws, rights, ceremonies, language and identity still lie.”

The letter does not reference which chiefs or clan mothers are making those statements.

The letter came just a few days after advanced polls were open on the territory for Six Nations and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation residents with no obstruction or demands to leave — and after the Six Nations elected leadership held a virtual event on social media for the candidates to speak directly to the community about their platforms. That event had significant community engagement with over 2300 people watching.

Two of the four candidates, Cole Squire (PPC) and Alison MacDonald (Liberal),  are Haudenosaunee from Six Nations. Both candidates have stated that their Haudenosaunee identity is a driving factor in their decision to run and want to represent the community’s priorities if they are elected to represent the riding. The statement from some of the hereditary leaders did not mention either candidate.

MacDonald wrote on social media about the voters at Six Nations – MCFN being discouraged by the Six Nations hereditary chiefs and their supporters by saying, “I respect anyone’s choice to abstain or spoil a ballot but please remember we need to respect those who want to vote with the same conviction.”

Squire wrote, “Very disturbing seeing voter suppression on the Six Nations reserve. No more of this mob nonsense! If you don’t want to vote STAY HOME!”

Six Nations Elected Chief Mark Hill posted to social media saying, “We all deserve to exercise peacefully what we believe in. I voted as one way to exercise my voice in this country and I am still a proud Haudenosaunee/Mohawk person from Six Nations of the Grand River.”

The other two candidates in Monday’s election for the Brantford-Brant riding, Larry Brock (Conservative) and Adrienne Roberts (NDP) both have professional experience having worked with Six Nations. Brock was assistant Crown Attorney for the region and Roberts worked in education. Both have included specific initiatives in their platform for addressing socio-economic needs on the territory with Brock focusing on economic opportunities and Roberts drawing attention to needed investments in Six Nations education.

Brock was the eventual winner in Monday’s federal election with 25,466 votes. MacDonald came in second with 17,912 votes. NDP Adrienne Roberts placed third in the race with 12,481 votes and Cole Squire placed fourth with 5,418 votes.

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