SIX NATIONS — The Kawenni:io/Gaweniyo Private School, one of two full Haudenosaunee immersion language schools on Six Nations, has been trying to provide their students security with a permanent school for years. Currently housed in the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, the school has been in the process of fundraising throughout the past decade.
The school has recently looked to the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council (SNGR) for support to approve their design for a new school building. But, there has been a long discussion within the SNGR.
This is due to the Federal Government using the community’s approval for the school as a means to fund the new building at the expense of the Six Nations land claim.
Several councillors then opposed the project because of the Federal Government’s stance, that would be leading the school to accept their terms as a lien to the entire Six Nations land claim — this fact has been proven through letters sent to the school.
On Monday, in an online meeting, Coucillor Wendy Johnson said that her opposition “isn’t speaking against [Kawenni:io/Gaweniyo] and not supporting it.”
“We can’t ignore issues that will hurt us down the road, she said. “We can’t look the other way and ignore it because come six months from now, say we gave you funding, but now this comes under the band and the government goes and takes away your board.”
“We need to draft a letter back to isc. Not paying forward funds. Not accepting money against land claim. Clarify terminology of band operated school.”
With the suggestion of a letter to be sent from the SNGR, Councillor Helen Miller agreed, saying that she won’t support the request unless the council gets clarification from the federal government.
“ISC is taking away the possibility,” said Miller. “They’re gonna get rid of your privatization and make you a band operated school.”
“I don’t think you guys understand the implications of what’s going on here. I know you need a school. I’m concerned with councils involvement, we need to understand what’s going on here. I don’t know at what point were going to sit down and do that but I think we need to.”
Elva Jamieson, a representative of the school, expressed her understanding of the situation, explaining her hopes in the ability to work together to give the students a secure environment.
Later, Council passed the BCR on Monday at the political liaison meeting to have a letter written by elected council seeking clarity from the federal government on why they are saying funding for the school would lien against the Six Nations land claim, when there are other schools in Canada on First Nations reserves that are also waiting to be built.
Cost and design plan is hoped to be released in a story next week.