A story which ran in a local newspaper and a letter issued by the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy implying that alleged members of the Mohawk Workers may have attempted to extort money from a family living on Birkett Lane has attracted the ire of many, including the Mohawk Workers themselves. According to the story and
A story which ran in a local newspaper and a letter issued by the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy implying that alleged members of the Mohawk Workers may have attempted to extort money from a family living on Birkett Lane has attracted the ire of many, including the Mohawk Workers themselves.
According to the story and the Confederacy notice, “Individuals claiming to represent the Mohawks at Kanata who have attempted to extort lease payments from individual residents and/ or businesses on lands in the area known as the Eagles Nest Tract are acting without authority of sanctioning of the Roy’ner (Chiefs) and Yakoya,ner (Clanmothers).”
Bill Squire representing the Mohawk Workers of Kanata flatly denies knowledge or sanctioning from his group to anyone who would seek to harass or extort money from any Brantford family, including the Birkett Lane family who reported the intimidating visit.
The timing of the unwelcome visit could not have been worse. The family was already grieving the death of a family member who died the day before the alleged extortion attempt.
“This was all a surprise to us and a bit devastating because things have been going pretty smooth for a while up there,” said Squire. “Some people wanted me to put out a statement on it immediately, but I refused to do that at that time. I figured why should I respond to rumours? When I do respond it will be on my terms after I have had time to look into the matter.”
Squire heard about it when got a call from local developer Steve Charest, who is working on a land transaction at that location with the Mohawks. Charest asked if they could meet right away to see “what the hell was going on.”
By this time, Charest says he was told that Mayor Chris Friel and MP Dave Levac already had the story. But the story’s implications of involvement or sanctioning by the Mohawk Workers of Kanata seems to be dead wrong, and Squire insists that no one representing the Mohawk Workers had anything to do with it at all.
“We know for sure it was not any of the people we are working with,” said Squire. “We instructed everyone that that neighbours property was off limits to us. We understood that. That was the understanding – they own the place and we will not bother them.”
“Who did it and why I don’t know, but it certainly wasn’t any of us,” says Squire. “We told the family that if there is a threat to them, it is a threat to us too and we would not condone this kind of behaviour.”
The location of the incident is a home adjacent to an abandoned house that Charest acquired in preparation for a deal with the Mohawk Workers that would see several acres of Eagles Nest lands given back to Six Nations under the Haldimand Deed and not through the Ontario Realty Corp.
When Charest heard of the extortion attempt he too was surprised and stunned. He contacted Floyd and Ruby Montour, Bill Squire and the upset family immediately to try and understand how much, if any, truth there was in the article and the associated rumours about this incident.
“I believe the press can play a role in moving communities forward,” said Charest of the article and the accompanying statement from the Confederacy.“But other media did not report this story accurately at all and I wonder why they would immediately go on the attack.”
Charest’s initial visit with the family was to hear the story directly from them. He discovered that the suicide took place the day before this unwanted visit not after as was rumoured.
“I feel sorry for the family,” he told the Two Row Times. “They are going through a lot of pain right now. It is tragic that this happened.” Charest went to the police station and found that they had no record of this occurrence happening.
The family told them they did not report it. “The family was pleased that I came to talk to them about it and I reported back to the Mohawks and Ruby, who was distraught upon hearing about it,” said Charest. When Ruby first heard about it, she could hardly believe someone would be so cruel.
“It’s a pretty low thing to do,” she says. “We didn’t know about the tragedy these people were going through until we talked to the family and to have to go through it with somebody trying to shake them down? That was really unbelievable to me. I would never agree to such behaviour.”
The printed story was much different than the initial story they had been churned out by the rumour mill.
“When it first came out it sounded like she committed suicide because of those people who came to see them,” says Montour. “She had passed away the day before that. I want it very clear in the paper that we had nothing to do with that at all.The Mohawks are being tried and found guilty by the media without any investigation or talking to the Mohawks about it at all.”
Charest returned to the Birkett Lane family home with Ruby Montour and others. They provided their condolences and tried to reassure the family that the Mohawk Workers had nothing to do with, and would never condone such behaviour in their ranks.
The empty house next door is being used by the Mohawks from time to time with Charest’s blessing.
“I think it is pathetic that something like this would take place,” said Ruby. “We let them know that we never sent anybody and we never would, and that if they ever need help we would be there for them – that we want to be neighbours and friends and that we are not going to do any harm to them at all and we never intended to do them any harm. That is not our way.”
“We went there and gave them a couple of gifts, and offered our condolences to them and made clear that if anything like this ever happens again, it would not be us,” she says. “We will be next door and if they need us, we will be there.”
The aggrieved woman that Montour, Charest and Squire met showed them a picture of the young woman who died and her baby.
“It really shows how fragile we are,” says Montour. “And to have to deal with this and have that compounded with a shakedown is really unforgivable.”
“I believe God wanted to calm their hearts,” she says. “And let them know that we were truly sorry that this happened. I told her that we would be praying for her and her family.”1 comment