OHSWEKEN – One thing is clear when it comes to the barricades on Highway 6 and the disagreement regarding ownership of who has the right to lease the Burtch land; and that is a lot of community members want to see the full traditional and elected governing bodies on Six Nations meet and come to one mind of the matter.
A group of concerned community members, barricade supporters, and those who don’t support the barricades came to last night’s Six Nations Elected Council’s (SNEC) general meeting on August 15. Lindsay Monture, accompanied by Wesley Miller, read a list of three demands she said the protesters said need to be met before the barricades may come down. The first one being that the injunction set upon farmer Kris Hill to cease farming the Burtch Lands needs to be removed.
Elected Chief Ava Hill was out of town for the otherwise full council meeting, which starting at 6 p.m.; Councillor Bob Johnson was acting chief in Ava’s place. Johnson took what the delegation said as information and said they would convene later to discuss how to respond to the list of demands.
Almost all of the community members in attendance left the room by 6:10 p.m. and the council meeting carried on as usual. A few moments later the group of community members, now larger in size, returned and Miller interrupted the scheduled meeting. Johnson said that he was welcome to speak and that SNEC would listen but that they would not respond.
“We’re not leaving until we get a response,” said Miller.
Monture then spoke and asked the elected council “Do you even care?” Several councillors said they do, but that the elected system follows a different set of rules and protocol than the confederacy does. And the injunction was placed due to the regulations that the federal system has set in place.
For more than one hour the group spoke to the elected council and shared their opinions. Several councillors responded while some did not.
A community member said when talking about solutions, “Take away the injunction — we open a lane.”
Another said “Remove the injunction so we can remove the barricades … maybe.”
Some of those in attendance said “tension was thick” in the room as the discussion became heated at parts and community members were speaking over councillors and vice versa.
Missy Hill, a mediator of the situation, was on hand to share her opinion and let SNEC know that all parties involved would appreciate a response and a timeline for the demands to be discussed. She also tried to keep attitudes in the room from escalating. By the end of the discussion Johnson said that SNEC would move towards planning a meeting of sorts this upcoming Thursday.
Councillor Melba Thomas spoke and said that the best way to find the solution to the solution for this problem would be to have both councils meet and discuss a plan, while focusing entirely on what the people in the community want.
“Nothing is more pressing right now then bringing the two councils together to talk about this,” said Thomas. Thomas mentioned that at a previous meeting with Chief Allen MacNaughton she asked him what could be negotiated and he told her there were no negotiations to be had and that he felt she was trying to stir up trouble.”
Thomas received a round of applause for the things she had to say and by the sounds of agreement heard from all sides of the council room a lot of people were agreed that both councils need to come to terms together on this issue.
The group left the council room and remained outside for an extended period of time discussing what steps to take next while SNEC completed their scheduled meeting.