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OPINON: Indigenous people are capable to protect our own, and resolve our issues

The Ontario Court of Appeal heard the case of a Six Nations Mohawk, Ken Hill, known tobacco businessman, defending his right not be pushed through a foreign court system to resolve a spousal support claim from another Haudenosaunee person. Hill says he and Britney Beaver were in a non-exclusive, non-spousal sexual relationship when she became

The Ontario Court of Appeal heard the case of a Six Nations Mohawk, Ken Hill, known tobacco businessman, defending his right not be pushed through a foreign court system to resolve a spousal support claim from another Haudenosaunee person.

Hill says he and Britney Beaver were in a non-exclusive, non-spousal sexual relationship when she became pregnant. Hill paid child support for their son since his birth. However, Beaver is pursuing over $85,000 in spousal support from Hill in addition to being named the sole recipient of his life insurance among other demands.

Hill is arguing that, according to Canadian law, he has a constitutionally protected right as an indigenous person — not to be forced into a foreign court system to resolve the issue. He has asserted this right all the way to the Court of Appeal.

Both Hill and Beaver are Haudenosaunee — however lawyers for Beaver say she does not consider herself to be a “cultural” Haudenosaunee and for that reason she says the only place she can find resolution to her claim is Canada’s legal system.

Critics have framed the case as an attempt to “trump” Ontario law with indigenous rights in the name of escaping child support. But is that facts or spin?

Article 5 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People says that “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.”

This declaration was further cemented into Canada’s fabric after Bill C-262 passed its third reading earlier this year.

“This enactment requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

These are the hard trail-blazing cases that will shift Canada to a nation-to-nation relationship with our communities. The inference that this case is about a ‘deadbeat dad’ with the money to push the envelope to the highest court in the province is insulting. It attacks our national identity as indigenous people and the struggle we are all taking as sovereign people and Canadians, respectively, in an age of reconciliation.

Will the Court of Appeal rule that Hill has no indigenous right to utilize indigenous law to reconcile an issue with an indigenous woman from his own community? The courts have reserved their decision and it will be made known soon.

In the meantime non-indigenous columnists can only see the story through one lens. This is prime example for the absolute need for all news outlets to have indigenous journalists who can understand the complexities of indigneous law.

Lawyers for Beaver insist if the case is not tried in Ontario court that it could put indigenous women and children “at risk”.

This is racist — and nothing more than the voice of the colonizer once again insisting ‘you can’t take care of your own women and children’ — and that indigenous communities and systems are incapable of managing our own.

It is insulting to our identity as distinct communities, to our journey of self-governance and our intellectual abilities as indigenous people to insist indigenous traditional systems do not have the capability to resolve the matter.

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  • tamara
    September 23, 2018, 9:49 pm

    First off no matter what court system this goes through he has paid his child support but should not have to pay spousal support givin’ the circumstances of the relationship.She is like so many other women out there looking for a meal ticket.The child is the mans responsabiity the woman can take care of herself.Also other cultures deal with their issues in their own courts and there seems to be no problem with that so why do you want to force the indigenous people? .

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