Sometimes — when the world is swirling in chaos, it just takes a little quiet time to gather together all the details and suddenly you begin to see a theme emerge.
Such is this week’s news coverage on Six Nations of the Grand River.
First, a young man is mauled by a dog – prompting residents to call for rules about responsible dog ownership.
Next, a group of residents comes before the elected council to urge for zoning laws to separate industry growth from residential areas.
And finally – community members begin submitting feedback as the community finds a need for health and safety regulations to protect the community against COVID-19.
It’s actually stunning to think about the gravity of where we are at as a community — when we insist proper form and function be followed at all levels of our government — and yet community standards have been operating on a dysfunctional honour system.
Have we finally reached the point where we can all agree on something?
The residents of Six Nations deserve a community where expectations about critical things like dangerous animals, environmental degradation and protection of residents are part of our community infrastructure. When you think of it, it’s very sad that in light of all the human rights protections, safety laws and mechanisms that people just outside our borders can rely on — Six Nations falls into a bit of a legal no man’s land and as such our people are less protected than the people living on the other side of the borderline.
Same human DNA for the most part, totally different standards.
The funny thing is – we as a community expect to be treated fairly and equally – especially by our own people. In fact, for the most part, we won’t stand for less.
When Six Nations Police come under scrutiny for the suggestion they’ve been heavy-handed or unfair – the community responds with passion.
When band council elections come under scrutiny for not following the rules the Indian Act requires — community members insist on an overhaul.
When the hint of legal games are being played by the federal government, officials pump the breaks on longstanding projects and dig in their heels to demand an answer.
We have so many expectations of how we should be treated — and the community-at-large does seem to want to see those expectations formalized in the form of enforceable bylaws.
The exciting part is that for the first time in a long time — Indigenous reserves are at a place in time where we can create our own standards, build our own enforcement mechanisms and assert our own means for finding justice for offences. And Six Nations, unlike many other First Nations reserves in Canada, has the financial means and infrastructure to do it.
Discussions of a one-day by-law court finally making it’s way to Six Nations might actually be taking shape. Imagine a community fund where those found guilty of illegal dumping are fined $2000 and sent to a mandatory course to address the wrongs. Funds get banked for community needs, reconciliations are made to offended parties and Six Nations is suddenly overseeing its responsibility to steward the land as a collective.
It’s possible. And we may finally be ready.