TORONTO — New details about the Haudenosaunee Development Institute’s multi-million dollar operation — including undisclosed success fees, limited public participation and conflicted personal self-interests are emerging after new court documents were filed Monday in the Men’s Fire effort to stop HDIs application to intervene in the Six Nations land claim.
Details were included in a court filing about the cross-examinations of HDI Chief Financial Officer Rick Saul, Director Aaron Detlor and President Brian Doolittle last month — who told the courts that all decisions made by HDI are binding on all chiefs and clan mothers — despite those community elders often not being consulted prior to documents being signed on their behalf.
The Men’s Fire is “raising the issues of HDIs authority, accountability and transparency” saying that HDI “would not fairly represent” the Haudenosaunee people.
During cross-examination, Doolittle said there is no public notice provided anywhere with respect to HCCC meetings which deal with matters that involved the entire Haudenosaunee population and that there was no notice sent to the Grand Council ahead of time prior to an April 2, 2022 meeting where Doolittle and Detlor say they were directed over a Zoom call by 10 hereditary chiefs to intervene in Six Nations land claim.
Doolittle also claimed that if a Chief or Clan Mother is absent from a meeting that a decision could be made without their involvement that is legally binding on those, often elderly, chiefs and clan mothers by a group as small as three men out of the 99 representative chiefs and clan mothers that should be in consensus for every decision.
The Men’s Fire says HDI did not provide evidence that any clan mothers were involved in the decision to intervene in the land claim and there was no consultation with clan mothers among their respective clans to bring those voices and considerations back to council.
Doolittle is quoted as having said “there is no separation between a Chief and a Clan Mother”.
The Men’s Fire says that this is false — and that Chiefs are only to serve as representatives for the clans, taking direction from the Clan Mothers — who have a distinct responsibility from the chiefs — to bring the perspectives of the families within their respective clans to council.
Paul Delaronde, a Mohawk teacher from Akwesasne, has been brought in by the Men’s Fire as an expert in Haudenosaunee Law. According to Delaronde, the women, especially clan mothers, are the cornerstone of Haudenosaunee society. The Men’s Fire says “to suggest there is no significant difference between a clan mother and a chief is contrary to the framework of a matriarchal society.”
Despite requiring consent from all 49 clan families of the Kentyohkwahnhákstha before a decision can be made in council — Doolittle confirmed that there were no Mohawk Wolf or Mohawk Bear clan representatives in the meeting to delegate HDI to intervene in the land claim. There were no Oneida Wolf or Bear clan representatives, no Cayuga Heron, Wolf or Turtle clans, no Onondaga Eel, Deer or Turtle clans, and no Seneca chiefs at all — present during the meeting where HDI says they were directed to start an intervenor application into Six Nations land claim.
The Men’s Fire says that HDI did not seek their consent or consent from several Haudenosaunee communities they are claiming to represent including: Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs, Oneida Nation Council of Chiefs, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne — in fact all of the above sent notice to the courts that they were not consulted or notified prior to HDIs motion to intervene.
Despite claiming that the HCCC and Grand Council in the US at Onondaga work together on issues — HDI did not provide any evidence that there were any discussions regarding the land claim intervenor application or no evidence that consent was given by the Onondaga Grand Council Fire.
In their application to intervene, HDI is asking an Ontario judge to give them “declaratory relief” — determining once and for all if the HCCC or the Elected Band Council is the “collective rights holder”.
HDI is also asking an Ontario judge to declare HCCC is the only party entitled to financial compensation in the Six Nations land claim — in the form of damages from Canada and Ontario for breeches of fiduciary duties and treaty rights, a full restoration of assets from the Six Nations trust accounts, and that Canada and Ontario would pay full court costs for the entirety of the proceedings.
Government officials have estimated that the land claim will be Canada’s largest financial reconciliation with Indigenous people in history — and an estimated one trillion dollars.
The Men’s Fire say HDI is not the entity they claim to be, “raising the issues of HDIs authority, accountability and transparency” saying that HDI “would not fairly represent its members” and “has interests in conflict with the interests of the Haudenosaunee people”.
Doolittle told the court that, although he was President of the HDIs 2438543 Ontario Inc, a numbered Ontario corporation established by HDI in 2014, he had never seen the Declaration of Trust document filed when the corporation was started until the day before his cross-examination in March.
The Men’s Fire says that the 50 common shares set out in the Declaration of Trust were issued in the name of chiefs titles and do not refer to individuals — and that he did not know which chief titles were vacant at the time HDI former Director Hazel Hill filed the Declaration of Trust. The Men’s Fire says that “there is a serious question as to the validity of the Trust as there are no ascertainable beneficiaries.”
The documents also claim that 2438543 Ontario Inc. is a “tightly controlled corporation under the authority of Aaron Detlor and Brian Doolittle” that “allows HDI to function as a corporate entity. In becoming a corporate entity by proxy of its use and reliance on 243 to carry out its operations, HDI has forfeited its place in the circle wampum and no longer has any jurisdiction under Haudenosaunee Law.”
The Men’s Fire says according to Wampum 58 in the Great Law that incorporation by proxy, under the laws of a foreign nation, “HDI has alienated itself from the circle wampum, the spiritual and political bond of the Haudenosaunee, and relinquished its voice.”
Claims also include HDI providing limited financial accountability. HDIs Financial Officer Rick Saul was also cross examined and said in the current fiscal year HDI has over 215 projects and refused to produce information on the revenue generated by those projects.
Saul said that projected revenues for 2023-2024 are estimated to be worth $11 million.
Further claims about mismanagement are in details about the lands acquired by HDI — which the Men’s Fire says were not done according to the principles outlined in HDIs policies. Doolittle said that none of the properties to date have been used for community housing.
The Men’s Fire say Detlor failed to disclose to the court that he personally co-owned a $1.3 million dollar luxury condominium in Toronto with 2438543 Ontario Inc.. According to land transfer documents — Detlor is the only person named in the purchase — entering into the sale on his own behalf and on behalf of HDIs numbered corporation.
“The purchase of the residential condo by 243 Ontario and Mr. Detlor is a clear violation of HDI’s stated land acquisition policies and a transparently self-interested action,” said the Men’s Fire. “The condo unit is evidently not an office space but a luxurious residential suite for private use.”
Doolittle told the court he did not read the condominium documents to see if the condo association would allow an office to be created in the building, “nor did he discuss this matter with Mr. Detlor,” says the Men’s Fire. “Mr. Saul admitted that HDI did not look for office space to lease rather than purchase…”
Saul also disclosed that Detlor recieved $130,000 for success fees in 2021 and $208,000 in success fees in 2022. But according to sources who spoke to 2RT and are familiar with HDIs internal operations — success fees have been as high as 8% of the total final amount of any agreement. Saul refused to answer any questions about success fees, or high salaries for anyone at HDI.
“HDI’s reluctance to disclose any details of the 215 projects (including fees earned), details about payments and fees, as well as their record of land acquisitions which have not served to enhance the welfare of the Haudenosaunee people, demonstrate a crucial lack of transparency and accountability to the community,” said the Men’s Fire. “This lack of transparency and accountability, alongside the clear discontinuity between the broader interests of the community and the self-interested actions of HDI, indicate that HDI will not be able to fairly represent the citizens of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.”