Six Nations Elected Council pushes back on claim they are “not working with the chiefs”

OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Council published a two page statement and three page chronology to it’s Facebook page on Tuesday evening, outlining their efforts to come together with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.

SNEC Communications Director Nathan Wright told TRT the statement was intended as information direct from the council to the people of Six Nations in an effort to go on the public record and clarify how SNEC has made numerous attempts to communicate with the HCCC.

“Since 2013, the Six Nations Elected Council has demonstrated its willingness to work with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council on a host of issues for the benefit of the community. These good faith efforts include a few face to face interactions, letters and emails requesting a regular forum to meet and an agreement on agenda items,” said the statement.

The chronology outlines 22 instances between December 2013 and February 2019 where SNEC outlines communication attempts made that were insubstantial, ignored, or met with hostility.

Burtch Dispute

The statement says SNEC and the HCCC entered in to a Memorandum of Understanding in April 2018 to work together to find a solution to issues surrounding Burtch, a tract of land that was returned to Six Nations from the Province of Ontario. The land was transferred to a trust, held by the Elected Council.

The HCCC ignored that transfer of ownership and instead, declared authority over the property and leased it to a tobacco farmer from Six Nations, Kris Hill. Hill has been politically involved with the HCCC for a number of years leading HCCC’s efforts to draft their own tobacco legislation.

When SNEC delivered notice that Hill’s farming activity on the property had to halt and sought an injunction — the HCCC agreed to pay her legal bills if she continued to uphold their lease and ignore that injunction.

Hill ultimately lost the legal battle that followed and the HCCC ended up paying over $150,000 in costs to the SNEC.

According to HCCC’s monthly meeting minutes, the Chiefs have also paid hundreds of thousands in Hill’s legal fees for that case. They are now being countersued by the SNEC for damages somewhere in the range of $500,000 to $1 million.

Now SNEC says the HCCC wrote to them in February 2019 telling them to stop “the persecution of their lessee (Kristine Hill) and dropping the costs that have been ordered to be paid to SNEC by their lessee. HCCC also asked SNEC to return the payments that have already been made to SNEC and to stop moving forward with the claim for damages. HCCC also stated that “no one will have access to the Burtch Land for agricultural or other purposes.””

SNEC and HCCC meet

According to the chronology, a meeting of the HCCC and SNEC was organized for December 2018. The meeting was supposed to focus on “drugs, suicide, bullying, cannabis and violence in the community.”

HCCC told SNEC that they are too “come under the HCCC”, that “HCCC wants to assume jurisdiction of education, health, membership, etc,.” in addition to the HCCC’s assertion that it governs 8 points of jurisdiction on the territory.

SNEC says just six out of the 50 hereditary chief titles were present at that meeting, where SNEC was told they “should politically step aside.”

SNEC said no process was given by HCCC as to how the people of Six Nations would be involved in that demand.

NRL work stops

SNEC says further complications arose when HCCC sent Colin Martin, the director of the HCCC’s financial corporation to deliver a cease and desist letter to A6N workers on the Niagara Reinforcement Line.

According to the chronology, Martin and Todd Williams delivered a cease and desist letter to the workers at the Niagara Reinforcement Line. SNEC says Martin and Williams told A6N workers if they did not stop construction they would return with “lots of people”.

“When [A6N] workers returned to work on April 29, 2019, supporters of the HCCC delivered a similar ‘cease and desist’ letter. The work to complete the line was a result of community engagement on the line which led to an agreement between Hydro One and the Six Nations Economic Development Corporation,” reads the statement from SNEC.

“The resulting agreement provided for a revenue sharing arrangement for the Community but also included jobs for Six Nations workers, through the Six Nations Aecon joint venture, A6N. The Six Nations Development Corporation reports that the line was nearing completion and the community stands to lose approximately $500K in revenues on top of the jobs lost for Six Nations workers. The Six Nations Elected Council supports the Development Corporation’s call to lift the “cease and desist” letter so the line can be completed.”

In it’s statement SNEC says the chronology “accurately outlines the efforts of the Six Nations Elected Council,” and says SNEC remains “open to finding ways and means of working together and ensure we have a safe place for dialogue and a mechanism that leads to solutions.”

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