Burtch dis­pute sim­mers with Chiefs’ warn­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - BRANT NEWS

The hered­i­tary Six Na­tions gov­ern­ment, the Hau­denosaunee Con­fed­er­acy Chiefs Coun­cil, is warn­ing they will “peace­fully re­sist any at­tempt” by the prov­ince, fed­eral gov­ern­ment or elected Six Na­tions band coun­cil to in­ter­fere with the farm­ing of Burtch Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity lands by a sup­porter.

Kris­tine Hill leased the land near Mount Pleas­ant from the Con­fed­er­acy with her then-hus­band in 2014 and has farmed the land ever since.

As part of the Hau­denosaunee coun­cil’s in­volve­ment in ne­go­ti­a­tions to re­move a bar­ri­cade from High­way 6 at the height of the Dou­glas Creek Estates dis­pute in Cale­do­nia in 2006, the chiefs say they ne­go­ti­ated the re­turn of the Burtch prop­erty to the hered­i­tary gov­ern­ment. Press re­ports at the time said it was done for the re­moval of three bar­ri­cades. . The for­mer Burtch jail, which closed in 2004, lies within a Six Na­tions land claims.

In early 2017, how­ever, the Six Na­tions elected coun­cil and prov­ince agreed to put the lands into a cor­po­ra­tion “to be held in trust un­der the band coun­cil” and not the tra­di­tional gov­ern­ment.

Hill was also served with a no­tice by the band coun­cil ear­lier this year to va­cate the land. She cur­rently has an in­junc­tion against her prevent­ing her from go­ing on the prop­erty and said she was served in the last week with a con­tempt of court for vi­o­lat­ing the or­der. She will be in court Aug. 10.

Con­fed­er­acy chiefs held a press con­fer­ence Thurs­day and, led by Mo­hawk Chief Allen MacNaughton, high­lighted a let­ter the Hau­denosaunee have sent to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and Premier Kath­leen Wynne.

“Since 2006, we have law­fully man­aged and main­tained the Burtch Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity lands, con­sist­ing with good gov­ern­ment prac­tices,” said MacNaughton. “We take the po­si­tion that the trans­fer of the lands to a fed­eral cor­po­ra­tion is in­valid.”

MacNaughton said, “We can also ad­vise that we will peace­fully re­sist any at­tempt by the Six Na­tions elected coun­cil and the Prov­ince of On­tario – and/or Canada – to in­ter­fere with Ms. Hill’s law­ful use of the Burtch Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity lands. We are con­cerned that re­fusal by the prov­ince to hon­our com­mit­ments will re­sult in Hau­denosaunee in­di­vid­u­als tak­ing more steps to pro­tect their ju­ris­dic­tion.

“We would urge you once again to re­turn to ne­go­ti­a­tions so that we may find a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to the mat­ters be­tween us.”

The Con­fed­er­acy also sup­plied a let­ter, dated May 17, 2006, from for­mer premier David Peter­son, who was in­volved in ini­tial ne­go­ti­a­tions sur­round­ing the bar­ri­cades in the Dou­glas Creek Estates dis­putes. It read, in part: “On­tario is pre­pared to re­turn ti­tle to the Burtch lands to the Six Na­tions peo­ple. The land is to be avail­able on an in­terim ba­sis for the Six Na­tions peo­ple for im­me­di­ate use while the land rights ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue.”

It also said: “It is the in­ten­tion that the land ti­tle be re­turned to its orig­i­nal state, its sta­tus un­der the Haldimand Procla­ma­tion of 1784.” The tra­di­tional gov­ern­ment was the only gov­ern­ment on Six Na­tions un­til 1924 when the elected band coun­cil sys­tem was es­tab­lished with the back­ing of the Canadian gov­ern­ment. Turnouts for band coun­cil elec­tions are usu­ally very low.

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