OHSWEKEN — Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council approved funding for a second helping of bread and cheese for local residents who missed out on Monday’s door-to-door distribution on Victoria Day.
An initial haul of 2500 loaves of white bread and 2500 logs of orange cheddar were not enough for the annual distribution this year, which was delivered to on-reserve resident driveways in a day-long mission on foot by members of SN Police, elected councillors and volunteers through rain and chilly temperatures all day Monday.
Total costs of this year’s bread and cheese was $45,000.
Some residents along Chiefswood Road, Third Line, Fourth Line and Sixth Line did not receive their portion and made complaints to the elected council.
SNGR discussed the distributions and shortage during Tuesday’s General Finance meeting.
Councillor Helen Miller said she wants to launch an investigation into the lack of items.
“We have to be accountable for that money,” said Miller. “We were supposed to have ordered enough bread and cheese for every household.”
Councillor Michelle Bomberry said all items were counted by volunteers ahead of the delivery to confirm the number of items ordered matched what was delivered.
Councillor Melba Thomas responded by saying “I don’t think we need to do an investigation.” Thomas speculated the shortage was because the cheese was cut too big. “If you give elders all that cheese – what are we gonna do with it?”
In the interest of fact finding, TRT conducted an independent cheese investigation showing on average households were delivered pre-wrapped logs of cheese, believed to be Jensen Colby, averaging 6-8 inches in length and 3-4 inches in depth and height — some weighing as much as 4.5 lbs.
Residents were also distributed one pre-packaged loaf of unsliced enriched white bread from Weston bakeries.
“I mean, I’m gonna eat it. Not all by myself – we’ve got a big family. Probably gonna make some grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni and cheese this week,” said one resident. “Perhaps even a quesadilla. There’s no cheese like Bread and Cheese Day cheese.”
SNGR says the items were delivered pre-packaged to uphold pandemic sanitation standards.
Other councillors said that reports were coming in of Bread and Cheese Day scammers, setting up coolers to receive distributed items at the laneways of abandoned homes.
Some council members speculated this could be rebellion by non-resident band members or non-band member employees still working through the pandemic – who were excluded in this year’s distribution.
Council made a late decision to carry on with Bread and Cheese Day this year, limiting delivery of bread and cheese to on-reserve households only. Six Nations Public Health conducted health screenings of all those people who delivered items to local homes.
According to 2020 data on band membership Six Nations includes 27,798 band members – 12,798 of whom reside in the community. A bulk of Six Nations membership – 53.2% – are not residents of the reserve.