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Police assessing break-in, removal of documents and computers after Central Admin protesters removed

Police assessing break-in, removal of documents and computers after Central Admin protesters removed

OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Council members marched back into the Six Nations Central Administration building Monday morning, escorted by police and about 200 community members supporting the police carrying out an injunction and the removal of protesters from the front lawn. Now police are investigating a break-in to Elected Chief Ava Hill’s office and

OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Council members marched back into the Six Nations Central Administration building Monday morning, escorted by police and about 200 community members supporting the police carrying out an injunction and the removal of protesters from the front lawn.

Now police are investigating a break-in to Elected Chief Ava Hill’s office and SAO Dayle Bomberry’s office. An official source told TRT several documents and a computer were stolen, along with damage to the building that is now being assessed.

Currently employees have returned to the building but members of the public are not being allowed entry while the building is being assessed by police.

Six Nations Police said they will remain on scene for the day and until the Elected Council are able to secure permanent private security.

Video footage shows members of the elected council and central administration staff tearing down wooden pallet blockades blocking access to the parking lot. Live stream video footage showed community members applauding police removing protesters and their belongings from the front lawn — which had become littered with trash and infested with insects.

The rear parking lot of the building was littered with broken beer bottles and spilled sewage. Police said a large trailer that had been serving as a washroom on site spilled raw sewage onto the street leaving an acrid smell in the air.

The building has been blocked by protesters since May 27 who originally gathered in solidarity with national demonstrations against the federal governments Recognition of Indigenous Rights Framework — a wildly contentious action that has been compared to Pierre Trudeaus assimilationist 1969 White Paper.

That demonstration turned into a two month protest, preventing Six Nations Elected Council, it’s employees, guests and members of the public from entering the building — unless the elected council signed a letter surrendering governance to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.

Protesters blocked access to the building, resulting in the physical assault of SAO Dayle Bomberry. A Six Nations woman and leader of the protests, Rhonda Martin, is now facing assault charges in that instance. Martin claims her actions were in self-defence and has sought charges against Bomberry.

One elected councillor, Melba Thomas, was targeted during her attempts to access the building. Protesters shouted at the elected official, arguing with her and calling her a “motherf***er” in what protesters were claiming was a peaceful protest.

Just a few weeks later, on June 28, Thomas’ home was completely destroyed in what is believed to be an arson. Police continue to investigate. Six Nations Elected Council removed elected councillors contact information and home addresses from their website following the fire at Thomas’ home.

“I think it’s time to get back to work,” said Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill. “They said it was going to be a one day — it’s turned into two months. We’ve got to continue to provide benefits to the community.”

Chief Hill said, “I want to thank the staff and the community members for supporting us and being there for the last couple of months. We’re glad to be back in here I think it’s time.”

Six Nations Elected Councillor Mark Hill said, “The main concern is always everyone’s safety. We wanted this to be as peaceful as possible. I feel like we’ve done enough. We accomplished a lot and I feel like there is a good outcome of this: it raised awareness and started conversations. Hard conversations that need to be discussed. Now it’s time that we have to come together. That’s the biggest part of it.”

Doug Whitlow, a Six Nations resident who attended today’s reclamation of the council building said, “It’s long overdue. It should have never been allowed to go this far. They should have took it down the first day it was up. People have to realize we live in a democratic society. Essentially the confederacy chiefs council has no power to do anything. They’re an outdated form of government that don’t belong in this century — from my point of view.”

Several of the protesters involved at the Central Administration building were the same individuals named in conjunction with the hereditary chiefs in an injunction against protesters obstructing completion of the Niagara Reinforcement Project – a Hydro One power line crossing the territory. In that case, protesters were demanding Hydro One end a deal giving compensation to Mississaugas of the Credit and Six Nations – and instead sign an exclusive $250,000 deal with the hereditary chiefs Haudenosaunee Development Institute.

The HCCC and it’s hereditary chiefs are the historical political arm of the longhouse religion among the Haudenosaunee people. On Six Nations, a council of hereditary chiefs governed municipal affairs from the time the Haudenosaunee people settled along the Grand River in the 1780s.

The hereditary governance model struggled at the turn of the century, both in serving the needs of a diverse population of both Longhouse and Christian people with differing worldviews — and to keep up with the demands of modernity.

By 1923 — after decades of community members demanding the federal government intervene and install an elected system — the federal government launched a Commission to investigate the affairs of the Six Nations people. That investigation concluded with a report to the Privy Council and an order on September 17, 1924 to dissolve the hereditary council and install an elected system of governance.

That order was carried out on October 7, 1924 when a delegation of four people — RCMP officers Inspector Frere and Lieutenant Bridges, Indian Affairs Superintendent Lieutenant Col. C.E. Morgan and a reporter from the Brantford Expositor travelled to Six Nations to deliver the message.

Since that time, supporters of the hereditary chiefs have attempted to unify to reclaim their governing authority — several times leading to similar actions of a group of people blocking access to the council building.

In the 1970s a group of hereditary system supporters padlocked the doors of the Ohsweken council building shut, refused to allow the elected council members access to the building and began advocating for a return to the hereditary chiefs controlling the affairs of Six Nations.

The elected council pursued a permanent injunction which proceeded through Ontario courts as a case known as “Isaac v Davey”. That ended in a landmark decision at the Supreme Court in 1977 that said the elected council was the official governing body of the people of Six Nations.

That case was cited by lawyers for the current elected council seeking an injunction earlier this month to remove protesters outside the Central Administration building.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow, Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations, is Outreach Editor for the Two Row Times. Her popular column, Scone Dogs and Seed Beads brings weekly thoughts on current day indigenous identity. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She studied Journalism, Human Rights and Indigenous Studies at Laurier University. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who also brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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3 Comments

  • Chris Nix
    August 2, 2019, 8:48 pm

    it’s a sad when I see so many uncle toms coming out to support the colonial system.

    REPLY
  • john hill
    July 31, 2019, 1:04 pm

    The HCCC did themselves a great disservice by allowing theses bullies and thugs to represent them. This is proof the HCCC would not be a competent replacement for SNEC. Tradition, culture and language are the HCCC’s forte and they should stick to that. Instead of bullying and intimidation the HCCC should be inviting those of us who suffer from cultural genocide into the long houses so we can reclaim our heritage, maybe then we can get rid of the us versus them attitudes on both sides.

    REPLY
  • Thohahente
    July 29, 2019, 3:24 pm

    You are relying on the oppressors law as the basis for your story ignoring the laws of our people. SNEC is only upheld by the Canadian courts because they were instituted by Canada. It’s a sad day when Onkwehon:we engage in the colonizers fairy tales and legal decisions that do not apply to Onkwehon:we lands or {Peoples. Maybe your paper should be called the Assimilation Times because you don;t seem to understand or think critically about the Two row wampum part.

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