Council’s referendum does not represent everyone

It is probably fair to say the community has made it clear that they do not support the Six Nations Elected Council’s attempts to garner a mandate to allow alcohol sales on the territory or to take up the art of brewing beer for the financial benefit of the community. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council issued a statement that they oppose the community’s involvement with “mind changers.”

Those who attended the advance polls on Saturday, January 10, 2015 were not all necessarily there to vote. There were a noticeable number of the community’s respected elders sitting in the front foyer of Six Nations Polytechnic, rubbing their aching joints while the cold air seeped into the small area, while they discussed the perils of legitimizing alcohol sales in a community that has been devastated by the impact of addiction. They warned that we are not supposed to have anything to do with alcohol. Period.

Some of those who did vote described feeling misled by the wording of the questions on the referendum. Many indicated that they wanted to send a clear NO and that was not possible with the 3 statements that were offered as selections on the referendum ballot. It was evident that some voters sat at the polling stations for a very long time contemplating what option to choose on their referendum ballot.

Most community members that attended the community engagement sessions questioned the morality and practicality of the proposed brewery and alcohol regulation, assuming that ours was a “dry community,” whether we had bylaws or resolutions indicating that or not.

Ava Hill suggested that a regulation would help with the bootlegging issue on the territory and that we could take the issue of alcohol sales out from under provincial jurisdiction. It has been stated repeatedly, however, that legally, a permissive regulation would require the continued use of provincial laws for enforcement.

The community was told by both Helen Miller and Matt Jamieson that there was nothing on record indicating that alcohol sales are forbidden and now, in the eleventh hour, there is acknowledgement of a 1988 community petition and band council resolution that forbade the sale of alcohol or even the discussion of such sales on the territory. Was the incorrect information given to the community throughout the community engagement sessions meant to be intentionally misleading for the sake of politics, or is this just another indicator of the ineptitude of Council?

There has been $25,000 set aside to fund the community engagement process to discuss regulating alcohol sales – an initiative that was borne not out of community need, but out of an opportunity to make some money, and this Council’s desire to say they have asserted their jurisdiction. Instead of spending our community money on Ava’s political goals of asserting jurisdiction over anything and everything, maybe we need to commence on a new journey of looking at how we expect good governance to happen in this community.

That would be $25,000 well spent and a community engagement process worth having. Because if social media is any indicator, it does not matter what the referendum results are: this community will not allow a brewery to be constructed here. It seems unethical and immoral, at this point, to proceed any further in this discussion of alcohol sales or a brewery. If the people protesting this initiative are all the little old ladies in the community, something is horribly wrong if this Council proceeds based only on the referendum results.

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