Shutdown costs estimated to be half a million dollars to Six Nations
OHSWEKEN — About 100 Six Nations community members attended a public meeting Tuesday evening, looking for details on why work at the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporations Niagara Reinforcement Line hydro project has been halted.
On Sunday evening SNGRDC put out a statement saying they have effectively put the project on a hold after a copy of a cease and desist letter to Hydro One regarding the project was sent to them via email.
“We are here today to publicly request the HCCC remove the cease and desist order on the project,” said Director of Communications Tabitha Curley.
Curley and members of SNGRDC presented facts from the history of the Niagara Reinforcement Line’s consultation history.
Six Nations Community members were invited to present their perspectives and questions on the way consultations were done. Several men and women rose to express frustrations that SNGRDC process of consultation did not gather enough voices to adequately represent the feelings and thoughts about the project.
SNGRDC Board Chair Claudine VanEvery-Albert told TRT she is hopeful the SNGRDC and the HCCC can find a way to work together to complete the line.
“I think that could happen,” said VanEvery-Albert. “I know that if it doesn’t happen, for the corporation, that this community will lose a lot of money, millions.”
SNGRDC estimated at the meeting that the costs of shutting down the line construction at $500,000 to date. That money, they say, will come from SNGRDC operating costs.
VanEvery Albert says it’s not only about financial losses. It is her hope the community can find common ground for the sake of future generations.
“I’m always hopeful. I strongly believe in this community. I said to the chief that it’s a venerable institution and it needs to be operational. I think we are way stronger together than we are separate. That is up to us. Its been going on over a hundred years now and it’s up to us to work together in the best interest of — not only for the people that are here now but for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren are the ones who are going to benefit from good financial planning. And it’s them we have to be concerned about.”
Six Nations resident Colin Martin said he was asked by the Haudenosaunee Chiefs to bring a message from them to the community meeting which he read aloud. In it, Colin read that the HCCC closed heated conversations with the SNGRDC at an HCCC meeting over the weekend after a wampum string fell to the floor. HCCC said in their statement the beads falling was seen as a bad omen and a tobacco burning ceremony was done afterwards.
Men’s Fire representatives Wilf Davey, Bill Monture, Moe Sandy and Bob Frank told TRT that they believe the SNGRDC did not make a good deal financially on the NRL. They claim that the stipulation that the power line be “energized” relies on the transmission of power stemming from a power generator at Niagara Falls. This they say, is generated by virtue of a right to be compensated for use of that water source that belongs exclusively to the Haudenosaunee people. This they say, was not a term of the NRL settled by the SNGRDC’s Director Matt Jamieson.
Jamieson told TRT that Aecon 6N workers at the NRL felt their physical safety was being threatened by the collective of men who shut down the work at the NRL at the end of January. Jamieson said workers were told if they did not halt work at the site that the men present would return with “men from all the territories” to forcibly halt construction.
“The subcontractor that works for A6N, that company’s name is Thirau, they advised us that they did not want to come back to the job site unless there was a guarantee of safety.”
Jamieson questioned the motives of the opposition of the NRL coming just two and a half weeks prior to its completion. TRT confirmed HCCC halted work on the line and is seeking $250,000 and an engagement deal as part of the terms in order for the project to be completed.
“The timing really raises a lot of questions as to what the motives are. Not being a party to the discussion that happens as a follow up to this stoppage, for us we’re sort of puzzled as to what are the motives, frankly. If it’s money that’s one thing but if it’s to displace our project and upset the deal we have in place that’s another. Either way one must conclude that some of that motivation may be money. I wouldn’t say it’s direct extortion but it certainly doesn’t smell well.”
Curley and Jamieson both said the public meeting was an opportunity for members of the SNGRDC to publicly ask for the cease and desist to be lifted.
HCCC did not respond to requests by TRT for comment or feedback on this issue.