Tsi:kanata’here, October 17, 2023 – In a noteworthy meeting of historical and cultural significance, Dr. Leslyn Lewis, Member of Parliament for Haldimand—Norfolk, recently visited the HM Royal Chapel of the Mohawks to engage in dialogue with the Mohawk University residents and the local community. The chapel, renowned for its rich history, served as a poignant backdrop for discussions on community concerns, aspirations, and the importance of cultural competency.
At the heart of the meeting was the community’s comprehensive objection to the Six Nations Band Council’s claims and actions. The discussions aimed to shed light on these matters and to ensure that their historical and legal positions are not only acknowledged but thoroughly understood.
A central concern revolved around the issue of money held in trust. This complex legal maneuver seeks to alter inherent rights, converting land from exclusive use and enjoyment into a subject of taxation and control. It is a matter of utmost importance to the Mohawk University and the Mohawk Peoples of Grand River, as it pertains to their identity, history, and the preservation of their cultural heritage.
The Mohawk University firmly maintains that the Province of Ontario and the Canadian government operate within these lands without consent or proper Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, potentially leading to arbitrary detention and arrests. Without a reciprocal agreement, there exists an inherent risk for those who enter these lands without consent.
The Haldimand Treaty of 1779 and the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, two historical agreements, provide the foundation for the Mohawk Nation of Grand River’s sovereignty and land rights within the Grand River territory. These agreements set the precedent for their unique legal status, which is integral to their culture and identity.
The Mohawk people have always valued the concept of exclusive use and enjoyment within their lands, and they have never opened these lands for public use. According to law, the roads within this territory are designated exclusively for the Mohawk people’s use and enjoyment, as outlined in their historical treaties. However, the imposition of Ontario legislation and presumption poses a significant risk, raising concerns about road safety liability, arbitrary detention and arrests.
The community underscores that, while enjoying their lands, all liability must be waived for the Mohawk people, regardless of the risks created by Ontario legislation and presumption. The Mohawk University assert that these lands should be recognized as sovereign territory with a unique legal standing.
MP Leslyn Lewis expressed her interest for the Mohawk University’s initiatives, which include a driver’s program tailored to community members’ specific needs and a housing initiative. The driver’s program seeks to empower the community with essential skills for responsible driving, contributing to enhanced mobility and self-sufficiency. The housing initiative aims to address housing needs without causing undue hardship to existing property owners, emphasizing cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
During the meeting, MP Leslyn Lewis confirmed her intention to contact Larry Brock as a courtesy since she was in his “riding”. Larry Brock, however, remains unresponsive to date.
Participants hope to ensure that not only MPs but also various community stakeholders are well-informed about their unique position. The Mohawk University has made extensive efforts to communicate its intentions, which have reached various organizations and individuals, including the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Solicitor General, where extensive discussions with OPP Indigenous liaisons have taken place. Communication has also extended to the Ministry of Transportation, the Chief of Police for Brantford and Six Nations, CN Police, federal authorities, the military, and all Members of Parliament along the Grand River, among others.
The community is committed to open dialogue, cultural competency, and the pursuit of a prosperous and harmonious future. The story of this meeting serves as a testament to their dedication to achieving these goals.