Opinion: Conservative media framing public opinion in constitutional case

Lawyers for the woman seeking millions in support from Grand River Enterprises co-owner Ken Hill have been working overtime — linking arms with conservative media friends to frame her case and bring it into the court of public opinion.

Beavers lawyer Joanna Radbord told Sam Pazzano of the Toronto Sun that Hill is trying to create an “alternate regime that would deny Haudenosaunee women and children access to the protections of the Ontario family justice system.”

Not only is this narrative false — but it is also racist.

They claim Hill is merely using his indigenous ancestry to skirt paying child support. This is not factual. Hill pays $33,000 a month plus all of his son’s medical expenses and tuition for private school.

Hill’s lawyers also clarified that he is not seeking to have any Ontario law declared invalid. His lawyer told the courts Hill is insisting it is his individual indigenous right “to be governed by the adjudicative processes, protocols and laws of the Haudenosaunee and the people of the Six Nations. “

It is racist for Beaver’s lawyers to assume that Haudenosaunee women and children would not be protected by a Haudenosaunee justice system or traditional practices of dispute resolution.

In fact, not only does Six Nations have a historical system of dealing with family issues — but we also have a modern one of our own design. This year Six Nations launched its’ own designated child welfare agency. We have capable legal analysts, lawyers, social workers and an entire justice department that could rightly assist these two people from Six Nations resolve this issue. Not to mention the expertise of traditional knowledge keepers who could bring in historical understanding of how these matters would be settled via clan families.

These are systems that Six Nations has fought to uphold and establish in order to create the infrastructure to resolve internal issues – especially issues facing families – that are trauma informed, hold indigenous knowledge and empower our people to stand on our own excellence instead of bowing to the auspices of our oppressors.

Hill is rejecting being forced into the Ontario court system. Meanwhile his son’s mother, Brittany Beaver, is rejecting the Haudenosaunee system in order to win her case.

Lawyers for Beaver sought to crush Hill’s constitutional question, calling the insistence of relying on our own ways a “nuisance or an abuse of the court process.”

Together, Beaver and her lawyers unilaterally decided that the issue should only be resolved using Ontario’s standards.

Is this in the best interest of the child?

Beaver and her team have also mounted a public attack against Hill’s character and the application of indigenous rights through the media. This is a means to an end. She wants to win this case — and dictate the narrative about his fight against the system.

On her personal Facebook page on Beaver wrote about the case saying Hill was a “billionaire” fighting for his “aboriginal son to have less child support than a Canadian child” and that it was a “misuse of aboriginal culture and nothing less than dishonourable.”

Hill’s Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation provides access for extracurricular activities, sports, medical supports and education to indigenous youth across all of Canada — which speaks volumes to Hill being more of a philanthropist than a greedy culture abuser.

Toronto Sun also reported Hill is on a mission to “refashion his claims to a constitutional right not to pay child support again.”

They went on to call Hill the “co-founder of the immensely successful Grand River Enterprises (GRE) — the world’s largest privately owned Indigenous corporation” and framed Beaver as merely “a single mom and college student.”

While in fact it may be true that Beaver is a college student she is not a single mom. According to court documents she is currently living in the million dollar home Hill paid for with her current partner and the child they share.

In child support payments, Beaver is financially provided with an amount that is well above the average college student’s normal monthly income.

The Toronto Sun and her lawyers attempts to frame Beaver’s situation as a college student who was taken advantage of by a greedy indigenous businessman with “tax free income” is disgusting. It is nothing less than racism. And what makes it worse is that it is pitting two indigenous people against one another in the court of public opinion. Two people who share a child.

Is it in the best interests of the child to have his future determined only by the province of Ontario and Beaver’s preferred system?

It is shameful that when a successful indigenous man refuses to become subject to a foreign court he is framed by conservative media as a cheap Indian making dangerous moves for all the other people in the village.

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