Tyendinaga Band Council wins precedent setting case

TYENDINAGA – A long-standing legal dispute between Clifford Maracle, long-time resident and business owner in Tyendinaga, and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) band council, has been resolved in the band council’s favor.

The Supreme Court of Canada declined leave for Maracle’s appeal to stop the band from seizing three pieces of land to settle a debt owed to MBQ. In the original case, the decision was that “Mr. Maracle… [was] ordered to pay [MBQ] $250,000 in general damages and $50,000 in punitive damages.” At that time, MBQ took out a writ of seizure and sale on three properties owned by Maracle. These three properties are not the lands and property in the original dispute, but rather from other lands Maracle holds.

Maracle has been embroiled in what Kanenhariyo “Seth” Lefort has said is a precedential case between Mr. Maracle and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte band office (MBQ). Lefort goes on to say, “It sets a huge precedent because now bands can collect land and property from a band member from debts owed. They could, in theory, buy debts as a bonds collector and take people’s property. This has never been the case before.”

Despite Maracle’s 13-year involvement in this land dispute, it has actually been an issue for MBQ for 23 years. Maracle only became involved when he purchased the building in question from Shawn Brant in March of 2002 for $100,000. According to court documents in January of 2008 Brant didn’t have a certificate to possession and Maracle was fully aware of that fact.

In 1992, Shawn Brant and his father wanted to purchase the land. At that time, it was just land and had no building on it. A verbal agreement between MBQ and Brant’s father had been agreed upon, but the MBQ reports not receiving any monies from Brant for the land. The Brants did obtain a large loan from Ohwista Money Management and Industry Canada to build a building, however.

The Two Row Times made several attempts to get Maracle and Brant’s response. Both have been unavailable for comment.

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