Haudenosaunee Territories – 119 Days ago Land Defenders occupied a prospective development site on unceded Six Nations territory. They asked for a meeting with the Federal government to stop allowing the destruction of their Indigenous lands to continue. No meeting date has been set yet but the traditional Chiefs, elected council, and Minister Carolyn Bennett’s office have all issued public comments and indicated that there is a dialogue happening on some level.
“Something we said at the beginning of all of this – 118 days ago – is that we want a peaceful resolution to this,” said 1492 Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams this week, “we want to see the federal and provincial government come to the table with our community in a real way to start this nation-to-nation dialogue.”
There was hope for a negotiated resolution in August when the two Federal Ministers with Indigenous portfolios sent a letter to the leadership in Six Nations seeking to resolve longstanding community grievances over the dispossession of Indigenous lands.
It has been over 50 days since this letter was sent by Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller and Crown and Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to the traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and the Six Nations Elected Council.
One Dish, One Mic has reached out to both Ministers offices asking for a specific meeting date and Minister Bennett’s office forwarded a reply Friday evening that said “Federal government officials have been in regular communication with representatives of Six Nations Elected Chief and Council, Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and Ontario throughout this process with regard to our offer to meet.
“We look forward to meeting with the community at the earliest opportunity,” the reply from the Crown and Indigenous Relations Minister also said that, “in August, Minister Bennett and Minister Miller sent a letter to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and the Six Nations Elected Chief and Council, seeking to work together to address these longstanding and unresolved land issues and to better understand the interests and priorities of the community and how Canada can support their vision and aspirations for self-determination.”
One Dish, One Mic had asked directly if it was an unwillingness by the elected Chiefs and the traditional Chiefs to sit at the same table that was the barrier to the meeting. This question wasn’t answered by the Ministers.
Land defenders contend that these councils not sitting together is a barrier to having the meeting. A press release from 1492 Land Back Lane issued on Friday morning stated that “having both the (elected council) and the (traditional Chiefs) coming to the same table has been a precondition set by the Federal government.”
The release quoted Colin Martin – a Confederacy Chiefs liaison – who said that “unresolved land claims have been a continuous issue in the country and the first step to true reconciliation is honouring the treaties made with our ancestors.”
Elected Chief Mark Hill said on his weekly press updates that he accepted an invite by Six Nations land defenders to their community meeting this week as an observer, and to listen to their concerns. A land defender press release quotes Chief Hill as saying “we are committed to unity and doing all the things we to do to bridge the gaps between the Confederacy and the elected Council.”
In August, Chief Hill’s council passed a motion to issue a letter of apology to the officials and residents in Caledonia, but council has seemingly shifted positions in the past months.
On October 23rd, the day after an OPP incident escalated matters on Argyle Street resulting in road closures the Elected Council issued a letter calling for unity, acknowledging the unpopularity in many circles of their decision to support the development on 1492 Land Back Lane, and even condemned the ruling of an Ontario court to issue a permanent injunction to have land defenders removed.
The October letter said Council was “disturbed with the judgement handed down yesterday by Justice Harper, as it proves that systemic racism is alive and well in this country, including in the judicial system.”
Something consistent between elected council, the traditional Chiefs, and land defenders is a desire to deal with the underlying land title challenges.
“It doesn’t matter what family you come from, or what governance structure you support, everybody understands that these are our lands,” Skyler Williams said.
The Haudenosaunee people who moved onto the lands picked a quiet Sunday night to attempt to make their point in a peaceful way, but the past four months have seen rubber bullets fly, a taser discharged into a young man, smashed police cruiser windows, blocked roads and a rail line torn up.
The longer this conflict has gone on without meaningful dialogue the more conflict has escalated.
“If the feds and the province don’t start getting here with some real negotiations and the OPP is left to enforce the injunctions on the road and the development it means a lot more of our people will be getting hurt,” Skyler Williams said, “and a lot more of our people will be going to jail.”
Haudenosaunee Territories on the Grand, Turtle Island – “I find that it is an abuse of process for Skyler Williams, the leader of those that are occupying the subject lands, to come to this Court and state that he does not belong in this Court, this Colonial Court,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Harper said to around 200 people watching his court in person and on Zoom, “and that he will continue to be in open and flagrant defiance of any orders that are made.”
“This is an abuse of process!” Skyler Williams replied before he was muted by the court for the remainder of the proceeding and prevented from offering a defense for the reclamation of 1492 Land Back Lane.
The Attorneys General of Canada and of Ontario were present in court but both excused themselves never to hear the constitutional argument prepared by 1492 Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams after he was muted. Lawyers for Haldimand County and Foxgate Development gave uncontested arguments for permanent injunctions. Justice Harper granted a permanent injunction to remove land defenders from the reclamation site to Foxgate. Justice Harper then also gave an injunction to Haldimand County against any obstruction of any road in Haldimand.
Just over three months ago, on the evening of July 19th, land defenders moved onto unceded Haudenosaunee lands that were close to being heavily developed despite no free, prior and informed consent being given from Indigenous people the land defenders claimed. They believed building Mackenzie Meadows – the name the developer Foxgate gave the lands – would effectively destroy the ability to resolve the underlying dispute over these contested lands. On July 31st the developer asked for an injunction ordering the land defenders to be removed and it was granted. On August 25th the injunction was upgraded from temporary to interlocutory – a stronger type of injunction.
By Thursday the Ontario court ruled to make the injunction to remove the land defenders permanent. In his written submission from October 9th supporting this day’s ruling Justice Harper talked about lawless protestors throwing port-o-potties, debris, and tires onto a highway and then lighting them on fire.
Hours later a conflict between land defenders and the O.P.P. across the street from Kanonhstaton re lit the match igniting the powder keg of tension.
Skyler shared his thoughts on the days court rulings with Karl in this exclusive interview with One Dish, One Mic.
“Toxic black smoke from those tires bellowed into the air placing the public at risk again for physical harm,” Justice Harper said in his ruling referring to the response by Six Nations people to a police raid on August 5th stemming from his initial injunction order.
Nine people were arrested on August 5th and cleared from 1492 Land Back Lane but the pushback from sympathetic community members resulted in Argyle Street being blocked, a railcar being turned back from the tracks on Six Nations, and firey blockades. By the evening of August 5th the camp of 1492 Land Back Lane was reoccupied.
Piles of skids, old tires, and a hydro pole were set ablaze sending the police back down the hill on Argyle Street again after the permanent injunction ruling.
Scores of people watched from behind the police lines in Caledonia as community members of Six Nations took to Argyle Street.
By the time night fell a power outage kept a portion of Caledonia in the dark, but Argyle Street itself was glowing with fires and the lights from vehicles and construction equipment.
Indigenous community members marched throughout the road and shouts could be heard:
“I love my people!”
“Honour the Treaties!”
“It didn’t have to be this way!”
Denied of their chance to have a voice in court, Six Nations community members found another way to be heard.
This Thursday, October 22nd, an Ontario Superior Court Justice intends to decide on whether to make an injunction to remove 1492 Land Back Lane land defenders permanent, but his Honourable R. John Harper may choose not to consider any evidence that Haudenosaunee people have a viable land claim.
Justice Harper had said on August 25th that since 1492 Land Back Lane land defenders ”are content to raise any of their concerns in the media as opposed to the court”, then he cannot consider evidence he doesn’t have. He did consider social media evidence that he agreed to use to name Skyler Williams as a defendant based on Facebook posts.
On the evening of July 19th land defenders moved onto unceded Haudenosaunee lands that were close to being heavily developed despite no free, prior and informed consent being given from Indigenous people the land defenders claimed. They believed building Mackenzie Meadows – the name the developer Foxgate gave the lands – would effectively destroy the ability to resolve the underlying dispute over these contested lands.
On July 31st the developer asked for an injunction ordering the land defenders to be removed and it was granted. On August 25th the injunction was upgraded from temporary to interlocutory – a stronger type of injunction. This Thursday the court will make a ruling on whether to make the injunction to remove the land defenders permanent.
The Trail of Injunction Tiers
Over the course of only a few weeks Justice Harper upgraded an injunction to remove the 1492 Land Back Lane land defenders from temporary to interlocutory, this week His Honour intends to decide whether to make the injunction permanent.
A temporary injunction is the most preliminary level of an injunction. An interlocutory injunction is a higher standard – the standard used by Coastal Gaslink to try to remove the Wet’suwet’en land defenders from their traditional territories earlier this year. A permanent injunction is effectively a final ruling on the underlying issue.
When deciding on the interlocutory injunction, Justice Harper used a three part test – called the RJR MacDonald test. After considering whether the applicant’s case – in this case Foxgate development – has merit, he then decided if the harm caused by not granting the injunction would be irreparable. He ruled that these standards were met and lastly Justice Harper considered who granting the injunction would harm the most – this consideration is called the balance of convenience.
This might seem to be a determination in favour of any underlying Indigenous land claim. If an Indigenous group has a land claim then developing the land would effectively eliminate the very land being disputed. The Yellowhead Institute – an Indigenous think tank – has shown that 81% of injunctions sought by a corporation against an Indigenous land claim are granted though.
The legal reasoning that Justice Harper is using to soften the balance of convenience conditions in favour of the developer is based on the comments of Justice Robert J. Sharpe in a 2019 Canadian Law book:
“Property rights are sacrosanct…the balance of convenience and other matters may have to take second place to the sacrosanctity of property rights in matters of trespass.”
Indigenous rights are protected by the Canadian Constitution. Canadian property rights are not protected by the Constitution of Canada, but they are considered so central to the Canadian sense of identity and wealth that they experience strong protection.
This is not a precedent being set. The Canadian sacrosanctity of property rights has been given such weight in injunctive relief hearings that it regularly outweighs the other considerations of the tripartite interlocutory injunctive relief test. The standard for a permanent injunction is different.
Skyler Williams is Facing a Morten’s Fork in the Road
A permanent injunction – the step being ruled on this Thursday – is effectively the court determining if the land belongs to the developer.
Justice Harper named Skyler Williams as the sole leader of the 1492 Land Back Lane defense – to the objection of Mr. Williams – and ordered him to have the land vacated. Justice Harper will not hear any underlying constitutional arguments unless the disputed property is vacated by the Haudenosaunee people and their supporters he stated in court.
Land defenders deciding to go or stay may have the same outcome. If Skyler Williams even had the power to get the property vacated the land development would resume upon their exit. If land defenders don’t leave then Justice Harper will not consider the underlying argument and issue a permanent order to allow the development to continue.
If the courts were to fully consider the underlying constitutional arguments and the associated land claim there is still not a clear path between court victories and real world results.
Court, Conflict and “Reconciliation”
This year high profile Indigenous rights cases stemming from a historical Sipekne’katik court victory and a historical Wet’suwet’en court victory have been in the news for not having those court rulings result in legislation or policy that implements the rights affirmed in the cases. The Mi’kmaw fishers and the Wet’suwet’en people engaged in the formal court processes, achieved some level of success in the court system, only to still have their rights effectively thwarted.
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church granted Coastal Gaslink Energy a temporary injunction to remove Wet’suwet’en land defenders in 2018. After six months of consideration Her Honour ruled in 2019 to upgrade the injunction from interim to interlocutory. Justice Church gave a narrow consideration to Indigenous law, and specifically said a blockade was not a traditional practice.
The treaty rights of Mi’kmaw fishers were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999. Mi’kmaw fishers successfully used the courts to show that they had an inherent right to support themselves through fishing. The court granted the right but stressed the importance of negotiating, not adjudicating a solution.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was given the power by the courts to restrict the level of fishing. They have used that power to restrict Indigenous fishing without defining the limits in a way that the Mi’kmaw fishers believe respects their inherent rights . Twenty one years after the court ruling the Sipekne’katik government started to regulate their own system. The violent pushback by non-Indigenous fishers has bitterly aggravated the results of the DFO inaction and exposed the threat of not implementing policies that reflect court rulings.
There are key differences between the fight for Indigenous rights by the Wet’suwet’en, the Sipekne’katik, and these Haudenosaunee land defenders. The commonality may be that land and rights on paper are much harder to implement in actual practice.
What About the Duty to Consult?
In 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada established that the Crown has a duty to consult in the Haida Nation v BC case. Justice Harper referenced this case in his ruling to change the injunction from temporary to interlocutory: “Knowledge of a credible but unproven claim suffices to trigger a duty to consult and accommodate. The content of the duty, however, varies with the circumstances.”
Justice Harper then went on to decide in this case that “it is not possible to differentiate between tenuous claims, claims possessing a strong prima facie case and established claims when those resorting to self-help refuse to engage in the court process.”
In the interlocutory injunction ruling His Honour establishes a timeline starting with the previous purchase of the lands in 2003 and ending with the current purchase of 176 homes. Justice Harper illustrates that it wasn’t until the end of the process that these land defenders “initiate their resort to self-help and associated violence”.
Notwithstanding the complexity of Justice Harper characterizing the interaction between the police and Indigenous people as land defender violence there have been documented public consultations. While the consultations were sparsely attended, the majority of Six Nations people attending them opposed any form of development on this property.
Fair consultation on the Haldimand Tract is an area where the law, the history of Six Nations, and Nation to Nation relationships wade into complex territory. The Six Nations band council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy traditional leadership have been firm that they consider the way the land was transferred from Haudensoaunee people to non-Indigenous people to be completely unfair.
1492 Land Back Lane is across the street from Kanonhstaton, an area that in 2006 was reclaimed from developers trying to add an urban intense development on the doorsteps of the Six Nations reserve. The political dynamics have shifted since the 2006 reclamation, but the unresolved underlying Six Nations claim to justice and desire for land back has not.
On Thursday the Honourable R. John Harper is likely to make a final ruling, what is unlikely is that this will be the final chapter in the legal story of the reclamation fight for 1492 Land Back Lane.
BONUS UPDATE: One Dish, One Mic will be providing updates on Thursday. Karl Dockstader’s counsel has had the condition forbidding him from attending 1492 Land Back Lane varied and he will file at least one report from the property. This will be his first in person report since August 29th.
Six Nations Territory – In a press release issued today, 1492 Land Back Lane’s land defenders highlight the escalation of police tactics lining up with a key court date for a second time.
The OPP have asked camp spokesperson Skyler Williams to turn himself in for arrest this week, with the next court date for the injunction against the reclamation of 1492 Land Back Lane coming next week.
The press release from the camp highlighted the arrest, tasing, and shooting of rubber bullets on August 5th – only two days before the key injunction court date on August 7th – as a way of making preparation for the court date impossible.
The land defenders are battling on two fronts. One front is the criminal legal pressure of mounting arrests and the threat that more police violence brings, and the second front is fighting –against the odds – to navigate the expensive and complex civil court injunction.
“Facing criminal charges while going through a civil court process at the same time is very difficult,” Skyler Williams said in the release, “using two different court processes to prosecute Indigenous people who are protecting their land is a colonial tactic that makes real justice unattainable.”
Justice Harper cited a lack of formal engagement in the court process as a reason for extending his injunction order on August 25th. This judge called property rights sacrosanct and said that “chaos, mayhem and anarchy would prevail” if the rule of law were not upheld.
“Indigenous people are told over and over again to engage in these formal processes that are inaccessible, incredibly expensive, and take a very long time,” Skyler Williams also said in the press release from the camp, “our community has been in the specific claims process for nearly 25 years.”
The court process in Canada is expensive and comes with a price tag too high for land defenders to currently meet. Civil litigators contacted by Land Back Lane land defenders gave estimates between $250,000 up to as much as $1.5 million to challenge the injunction. A Go Fund Me to raise legal funds sits at $150,000 – well short of the low estimate to fight the injunction.
The land defenders have decided to fight the individual arrests instead. Over two dozen camp supporters have been arrested, a new round of warrants has been issued, and the OPP is pressing the land defenders to let the developer continue working on the property.
Included in the round of arrests are One Dish, One Mic journalist Karl Dockstader, Real Peoples Media reporter Starla Myers, and researching reporter Courtney Skye who specializes in research on how injunctions are disproportionately denied to Indigenous people defending their lands.
Last week officials from Haldimand County continued to issue statements criticising a lack of action by the police. In a September 23rd document the Haldimand County Police Services Board expressed “disappointment” and “concern” over the OPP handling of the reclamation and said the response was “unacceptable”. They also equated the actions of land defenders as legal “terrorism”.
While the land defenders face hard choices with limited funds, police resources seem to be virtually limitless. In August One Dish, One Mic made a video showing how a community centre had been converted to an ad hoc police headquarters with 20 police cars in the middle of the town of under 10,000 people.
The camp has only seen conflict on one of the 72 days since the occupation started, but with local political pressure, no intervention from the Federal government in sight, and arrest numbers piling up, will the OPP attempt a second raid days before a crucial court date again?
One Dish, One Mic will continue to update this story as it develops.
On Saturday, September 26th, musicians Derek Miller, and Phil Davis will headline the 1492 Land Back Lane Unity Jam session at the site formerly known as McKenzie Meadows on unceded Six Nations territory.
In a boisterous announcement on Facebook Live on Saturday night Derek Miller announced the “we won’t tolerate OPP harassment show!”
Derek Miller complained that the OPP had been giving him a hard time but defiantly shared his plan to proceed with the show. He teased the possible appearances of Logan Staats and Layla Black, and that he had been speaking with Juno Award winner Tom Wilson who is sympathetic to the struggle of the Haudenosaunee land defenders.
One Dish, One Mic reached out to Tom Wilson and he issued the following statement:
“We live in a time and a place where we see people trying to make the truth irrelevant. We’re a country where honesty is rewarded with arrest and where history is a one sided story. When we support the truth of our people and lead with the love in our hearts, we have no fear of weak minded laws and the enforcers hired to protect the greed of elected authority”
One Dish, One Mic reached out to Phil Davis on Sunday morning and he confirmed his attendance. We asked him about the personal risk and he said that he had already made a choice that defending Indigenous rights was more important than potentially getting in trouble.
“I activated my activism way back,” Phil Davis said to One Dish, One Mic, “if they want to charge me, go right ahead!”
Phil Davis introduced Tom Wilson recently at Celebration of Nations and shared parts of his personal story. Tom Wilson didn’t find out until he was an adult and an established musician that he was adopted out from his Mohawk community. Phil was one of the first people Tom reached out to to share his revelation.
Phil continued to commend the sacrifice of Skyler Williams and other land defenders fighting for Indigenous rights and sang a song before Tom Wilson’s set.
“I sang that song for Land Back, just to create some enlightenment there, hopefully that will lead to education and empowerment moving forward,” Phil explained, “we get these little glimpses of opportunity, we have to take advantage of it to the best of our ability to promote what’s best for our future generations…there’s things that people have heard for the first time and they are the same age as us, that is by design. It’s about two things: it’s about power and control.”
The musicians who have agreed to put on a show at Land Back Lane hope the message is powerful even if there is a risk of arrest for attendees. Attending the grounds defies a court injunction prohibiting anybody but the developer and their agents from stepping foot on the site. This risk hasn’t deterred people from coming almost every Saturday for the length of the reclamation.
Other rumoured attendees included gifted poet Kahsenniyo. Past attendees include award winning poet Janet Marie Rogers, top 40 performer and promoter Jace Martin, and many more gifted artists.
A lacrosse game and potluck will follow the concert. More information and official announcements from the condemned but determined organizers of #1492LandBackLane can be found on their Facebook page:
On July 19th in the evening land defenders moved onto unceded Haudenosaunee lands that were close to being heavily developed. Free prior and informed consent to develop these lands was not attained. A construction project to be named Mackenzie Meadows would effectively destroy the ability to resolve the disputed status of the land and this heavy land alteration was and is set to begin.
Land defenders stopped this development and have renamed the land 1492 Land Back Lane and intend to keep it as Haudenosaunee territory – in the words of one of the many land defenders Skyler Williams – “forever”.
Court Orders as a Tool of Colonialism
The developer – Foxgate – and the County of Haldimand easily attained an injunction in short order. Obtaining an injunction does not reflect the merits of the broader case, it is a temporary tool. First Peoples Law – a firm dedicated to advancing the rights of Indigenous people in Canada, and the First Nations governance think tank Yellowhead Institute have documented arguments critical of this tool.
The Yellowhead Institute has demonstrated through their research that instead of being a tool for dispute resolution, injunctions have had a more one sided result. 76% of injunctions filed against First Nations by corporations are granted, while 81% of injunctions filed against corporations by First Nations are denied. Secwepemc leader Art Manuel called them a “legal billy club” in Unsettling Canada.
First Peoples Law has called injunctions a “tool of colonialism”. The purpose of an injunction is to preserve the status quo until a resolution can be reached. A measure called the ‘balance of convenience’ factor favours the interests of third parties, particularly the economic welfare of developers, and this is part of why the numbers skew against land defenders.
Participating in Western power constructs that have deep rooted white supremacist foundations has yielded limited results for Indigenous people. Haudenosaunee people have their own decision making bodies derived from their own laws. The courts do not acknowledge this and see the singular Canadian rule of law as sacrosanct.
“According to Canadian law, our law also needs to be respected,” argued Skyler Williams during a press conference after a judge on the banks of the river of the disputed territory extended the previous injunction, “when they continue to enforce these injunctions in the violent way that they do it, it goes against Canadian law.”
Law Enforcement Officers enforce Canadian Court Orders
On August 5th several dozen armed OPP officers fired rubber bullets and arrested 9 land defenders some of whom were resisting by throwing rocks. Separate community members supportive of the 1492 Land Back Lane Land defenders closed off multiple roadways and turned back a rail car on Haudenosaunee territory on the same day. Tires were lit on fire as an act of resistance and a sign of distress. A construction excavator was lit on fire and when emergency service providers came to put it out they were granted access through the main barricade but frustrated Six Nations people turned them back by throwing rocks and restricting access to their territories and the fire.
When OPP officers attempted to access 1492 Land Back Lane from the western access points, they were turned away by Haudenosaunee people. The Highway Six bypass at Argyle Road and the corner of Fifth Line and Highway Six were barricaded. The area in front of the Kanonhstaton reclamation sight was barricaded.
Because of the strong community response the land defenders reclaimed 1492 Land Back Lane that evening. A fire was lit by supportive community members at the corner of Sixth Line and Argyle St called “Six and Six”. The fire remains lit to watch the western edge of 1492 Land Back Lane. It is guarded by veterans of the Kanonstaton territory upon which it sets.
New injunctions were awarded to Foxgate and Haldimand in the following weeks that now included the newly blocked roads. Around 20 OPP vehicles are stationed at a Caledonia community centre a few blocks from 1492 Land Back Lane. OPP aircraft frequently circle the camp.
The police remain ready to enforce the injunction but have not yet done so. They are using a Provincial Liaison Team to seek a resolution that doesn’t involve forceful removal. Broader public safety is another element the police may be considering. The last police action motivated several dozen Haudenosaunee people to erect more road blockades and greater public disruption in reaction to the raid at 1492 Land Back Lane.
Still the police have made it clear they could enforce this injunction at any moment. As a matter of law they must enforce the injunction if they cannot negotiate a peaceful de-escalation. Their discretion, and their tactical reasons for not informing the public of their intentions, leave the question of when they might try to arrest people at the camp as a great point of uncertainty.
Courts Continue to Order Police Resolution
On August 25th Justice Harper extended previous injunctions against land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane and against blocking roads in Haldimand county – even though by the time of his ruling the roads had been cleared as an act of good faith. He disregarded the action as a land claim and outlined steps within the framework of Canada to submit land claims that had not been followed. He also – based only on social media posts – named Skyler Williams as the leader of this land action pinning civil and potential criminal liability on one person.
“There is no award of damages that could adequately compensate either Haldimand or Foxgate in the cases before me,” Justice Harper said and central to Canadian values is the rule of law, “it applies to everyone, without exception”.
When Justice Harper started to speak of reconciliation and condemn land defenders, a Haudenosaunee woman attempted to address the court. The judge was unwilling to use his discretion to modify his courts rules to allow her to address the matters at hand. He called this attempt to engage the courts unfair because the OPP lawyer and other lawyers had sent their submissions in writing in advance.
Justice Harper had discretion to allow a Haudenosaunee woman to address the court. He chose not to allow it. He continued to condemn Haudenosaunee people for not participating within the Canadian framework in his singular view of the rule of law.
Now that Skyler Williams is a named defendant the onus is on him to defend a broad range of actions by numerous people as the named leader of this movement. The Canadian legal system favours people with money creating another barrier for a fair outcome. The risk of more extensive criminal charges above and beyond the civil court charges even further compound barriers for this land defense.
How will this be Reconciled?
The land defenders have indicated that they will not stand down. They want the land back.
“Our people have been here for the last 10,000 years,” said Skyler Williams, ”Our people will be here for the next 10,000 years.”
The elected Indian Act council of the Six Nations reserve is publicly bound to support the project because they signed an accommodation agreement accepting $352,000 and 42 acres in exchange for their support. The traditional Haudenosaunee Chiefs stand behind this reclamation. Both councils have asked for a development moratorium on disputed lands.
The local Haldimand government stands behind its support of the development, and expects the Haudenosaunee and their supporters to be removed. Ontario’s Premier has condemned the land defenders for the way they resisted the police and retaliated, but he has spoken to the elected Indian Act chief of the reserve Mark Hill. The Federal government has sent a letter to the elected council and to the traditional Haudenosaunee Chiefs council expressing an interest in having a meeting, but no time frame was set.
“Canada deeply values its relationship with Six Nations and is committed to continuing to work collaboratively to address Six Nations’ historical claims and land right issues,” said a response from the Office of the Minister of Indigenous and Crown Relations shared with One Dish, One Mic, “With regard to the McKenzie Meadows Caledonia housing development, we encourage the parties involved to continue to work together through open dialogue to find a constructive, respectful, and positive way forward.”
At the same time this statement was released, dozens of officers remain stationed within three minutes of the encampment. What could a successful liaison to avert a confrontation look like? Will they move in a second time and test the support for the reclamation? What is certain is that they won’t stay at this ad hoc detachment location forever.
Maybe an indication of things to come is that when One Dish, One Mic sent the inquiry email to the Minister’s office it was entitled ‘1492 Land Back Lane’, but before the response was sent the email title was changed by the Federal respondent to ‘McKenzie Meadows’.
Troll: One person can speak for all people of his race, must be nice.
Troll 2: Don’t you know that Sean is the Ambassador for all natives?
Other Troll: F*$%in’ Sean…The Internet
Perhaps the best way to understand Sean Vanderklis is to understand a love story. No, it’s not the story of Sean and Karl and their fateful meeting in a cold dark downtown St Catharines basement. It’s not the story of Sean and the brave women who have endured/enjoyed his passion. It doesn’t even involve Sean taking a selfie.
This story starts with a man tasked with teaching young people about politics. He had been gifted the task of leading classrooms full of impressionable hearts and minds. His specialty was political science. His expertise was based on a deep affection for Canada. What was truly in his heart was a profound affection, a deep soulful appreciation, a love for the ages.
That love was for castings of Canada’s first Prime Minister John A McDonald in statue form. That man was former professor emeritus of Brock University Gath Stevenson. He loved those statues so much that their removal drove him to hate.
He picked up the anti-political correctness cannon and aimed it at Indigenous people and their supporters. They were exposing his one true love – John A McDonald statues – as being representative of Canada’s history of racist policy and self-interested decision making. These damned snowflakes were even having them taken down. Canada was built on the backs of the racialized people who laid tracks on stolen land under orders from a super white patriarchy and its great accomplishments need not be sullied by ‘snivelling’ ‘ignorant pagans’ making Canada ‘unfit for civilized people’.
Garth Stevenson would be damned if he would sit idly by and acknowledge that the real history of Canada interfered with his jingoist vision of a wild western frontier tamed by the great RCMP travelling the railroads. Garth (probably) wrapped himself in a Hudson Bay blanket and engaged in keyboard warfare. This, however, led professor Garth to encounter the ultimate foil to his folly.
Garth stoked a gargantuan fire. He rattled the cage of Sean Vanderklis’s killer instinct to seek and destroy offensiveness and bigotry. He became the target of Sean’s greatest superpower- the ability to call things racist.
Working side by side with a community of Indigenous people and supporters that will take no shit, Sean rose to the challenge and amplified the message that this ignorance is not welcome here.
“Racism is alive and well in Canada,” proclaimed and emboldened Sean Vanderklis.
Muffled cries of “I hate territorial acknowledgements”, “why can’t you stay conquered”, and
“assimilation is for your own good” were drowned out by facts, sound arguments, and a newfound inspiration to redress the transgressions of history with the remedy of reconciliation.
Sean would indeed go on to become the ambassador for all Natives. Garth was stripped of his emeritus status faster than a politician answering a query with a non-answer. Niagara became a better place that week all because a white man cared about a statue more than he cared about the people original to these lands and he got called out by Sean.
Karl Dockstader – Co-host of One Dish, One Mic, Sundays at 10am EST on AM 610 CKTB. Please note this article is satire. The idea of an Indian Butter Maiden is pretty daft in a very special American way.
Arden Hills, MN – In a sad story Mia the Indian Lake Maiden will start her slow churn and retire. After a hundred years as the butter mascot for a successful global corporation Mia will spread her talents across a greater breadth of ventures. She hasn’t fully rendered her plans yet, but she plans to emulsify more leisure with her skills as a money making icon
Fans of the Mia who’s hearts are melting can rest assured that the separation won’t last too long even as she cools her work in butter making on the countertop for 20 to 30 minutes or more until she’s set on a plan for her future.
Mia plans to visit Tiger Lily in the Land of the Braves to try to reconnect with her roots as a fictitious culturally appropriated character. “We miss our Great White Fathers in Indian country,” Tiger Lily told us when contacted for comment, “but us Red Indians can scalp all the pirates we want here as part of our sovereignty as Piccanany people.”
“Now is the time for Mia to write her own story,” gleefully exclaimed Mia’s friend Disney’s Pocohantas, “It’s too hard to reconcile the history of rape, pillaging, and land theft that is the foundation of white settler wealth in North America”.
The sexy teen princess marketed at children continued: “Mia has a chance to whitewash over her past, put on her best redface, and sell herself in whichever way can make her a buck.
“I’d add themes of environmentalism, nobility, and a mild critique of consumerism – which sells better then you might think,” continued the beautiful caricature, “but don’t get too critical – brains and beauty don’t sell – and keep it young, savage enough and sexy. That’s America’s bread and butter.”
“I don’t know who she is to tell me about bread and butter,” joked Mia when we shared comments from her friend.
“I actually have reached out to the Maid of the Mist for a better idea of how to handle my multi-national portfolio even though she retired from doing business in Canada and only licenses in the states. She agreed to share her agent with me,” Mia explained while still looking the part of a stunning exotic.
“(The Indian Maiden of the Mist) said that she referred her agent to the fictional Prince and Princess Harry and Meghan for how to extract in Canada for a soft launch, and then capitalize in America when you’re ready to really pump out your brand for money,” said Mia.
Mia didn’t want to share too much more detail, afraid to spread too much and melt away her ability to relax. The Butter Maiden did share that before she rebrands and visits her friends, Mia plans to lay in a cool dark place for a couple of days, but not for too long so she doesn’t sour. Teasing her future plans she shared, “ I know one thing for sure: the margarine for error in my future is small.”
There has never been a more important time to think about what matters the most to each and every one of us then right now.
We are in an unprecedented time in the world. There is a greater threat that sees no borders, races, gender, or class divisions. In only 4 months a new infectious disease has killed a record number of people, and infected even more.
Ontario has declared a state of emergency. With each passing day over the past week the governments and leaders of the world have announced increasingly unusual measures to stop the spread of COVID19. Measures should be stepped up. “We will spare no expense to support Ontarians,” Ontario’s Premier said when suspending traditional law for temporary emergency law.
Now we will see what we are made of as a people. Crises have a way of intensifying the best and worst parts of things. It is terrific to see how laser focused the media is working to get accurate information out to the general public. It is good to see countries’ leadership mostly listening to experts. There are a lot of acts of good that will come from good sources. There will be good acts that will come from sources we have traditionally seen as bad.
There will also be an aggravation of the weaknesses in our society and culture. While this new coronavirus sees no borders, races, gender, or class, we as a people do. Closing borders, closing business, closing services may be sound tactical measures that protect the vast majority of the public with the means to hunker down and wait out the virus; what about the people that don’t have those means?
We have invisible people in our society and we need to see them now. The doors to libraries, to Tim Hortons, and to other service providers in Canada will be shuttered but we need to support the people who are counting on access to bathrooms, running water, and the internet. We kicked the can of equitable care down the road as a collective, we need to pick it up now. This is the time to prioritize the fairest treatment of all people.
The conversation about how to protect the economy, the pensions of workers being ravaged by Wall Street and Bay Street panic, businesses and workers, is well underway. These conversations need to get bigger. We need to bring along the most vulnerable people in what could be this societies’ defining moment of goodness. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, let’s exhibit unprecedented exceptionalism.
We have the means to do good, what we need now is the will.
From the Desk/Kitchen Table of Karl Dockstader
On February 24th, 2020, in the morning news cycle prime time the Crown’s state police outnumbered and wrestled land protectors to the ground on territory that was gifted to their people for their assistance in helping Canada achieve sovereignty. The very men who were tasked by their community in Tyendinaga to help protect the land for the unborn generations were driven into it by agents of the Crown who uphold laws of the Canadian nation state. Canada can’t help but revert to colonial force when the economic interests of the power elite are at stake it seems. Peace was in hand, but it was put down by force that morning as Canada again disdainfully proclaimed that the only rule of law that matters is their own.
The events that are shaping Canada in early 2020 are not about a pipeline, a rail blockade, or the misleading claims of divided Indigenous communities; These events are about the hearts and souls of Nations and the values they reflect.
This nation state now called Canada would not be possible had the forefathers of the land protectors not defended the territories in Canada without hesitation from the rebel thirteen colonies centuries earlier. Marc Miller on February 15th, 2020, asked to ‘Polish the Silver Covenant Chain’ in an act of Nation to Nation respect established in these formative years for Canada. This is an important legal acknowledgement that history on this land is shared between the Crown and her people and the people original to these lands. This sharing is meant to embody principles such peace, respect, and friendship that were crucial in order for Canada to be formed.
These acts of kindness, the use of the Silver Covenant chain, the friendship between leaders tasked with caring for their people are part of the most formative events in Canadian history. In 1701 leadership from the Haudenosaunee negotiated the Treaty of Montreal with the French to effectively apply the principles of the One Dish, One Spoon agreement to their territories. At the same time period in the same year Haudenosaunee leadership negotiated the Treaty of Nanfan following the same principles with the representatives of the English Crown’s leadership. The One Dish, One Spoon was further used as a terms of reference for peace and resource sharing between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe people during this time.
Scholars and legal experts can split hairs over the specific legal, constitutional, and historical ramifications of how these One Dish, One Spoon principles apply in detail today, but this agreement is one of the most crucial foundational events in the establishment of the modern Crown nation state now called Canada. For over a century when Canada and the United States were transitioning from colonies into independent nation states they looked to the existing Nations in these territories for guidance, governance, and power structures to follow. It is well documented how much time William Johnson and Benjamin Franklin spent with the Haudenosaunee people to explore a kind of freedom from tyranny that the European commoner hadn’t seen. They looked to the law of the land, and on Turtle Island the rules of law are the principles of the wampum agreements.
The rule of law is the One Dish, One Spoon agreement; the resources of this territory are a finite gift from which we can support ourselves to the degree we need with the understanding that we must leave enough to share with others. The rule of law is the Two Row Wampum agreement; we have to have peaceful interactions respecting the distinctive strength in each of our cultures that lead to respectful dialogue in the name of mutual respect and friendship. The rule of law is the Silver Covenant Chain; our fates are bound together, our histories are deeply interconnected now, what happens to the land happens to both our societies, so we must come together regularly as equals and remind ourselves that peace is something we actively need to work at together.
The Canadian nation state right now is far from peace. While Canada could turn to the One Dish, One Spoon principles as a roadmap for resource development it instead has turned resource development over to profit driven extraction focused corporations. Canada could follow the roadmap for negotiation that the Mohawks shared with some of the first settlers in the Two Row Wampum and focus on peace and values with other nations. The Crown is instead willing to do business with leaders from countries who detain Canadians without merit, suppress the press, and regularly violate human rights. Canadian nation state leadership could explore how conservative, liberal, progressive, and French Canadian values add to regionally unique interests of a land that has so many gifts by looking at what chains of friendship exist between these diverse but important interests. Instead their parliamentarians shout at each other in their leadership house with adversarial tones to work towards the self interest of making their party look good as opposed to caucusing for how to help their people get the things they need that they can’t get on their own.
Perhaps this is too optimistic to hope that the modern Crown nation state can look to the values of the people original to this land. There is a presumptive superiority in the way that the colonial settler society has conducted itself since it got here. This is coupled with a robust and rich history of top down leadership enforced at the tip of a bayonet, the end of a rifle, or in the case of the OPP in Tyendinaga the use of sheer force of numbers. Is Canada more than an economic engine that pumps money out of the land for the benefit of an established power status quo? What principles will the nations state of Canada use to reconcile it’s deepening income inequality, regionally divided interests, and widening political polarization? Are Canadians okay with their government using force and suppression of journalism to deny sovereignty to people who were, are and will continue to be freely governed by deeply entrenched laws and lessons learned from the land?
There are answers to these complex questions about Canadian nation state values. There is a way for the Crown to learn from history to meet a wide range of needs of people with differing perspectives. The values of the agreements reflected in wampum were shared freely with colonial settler society to help everyone who lives on this territory live a full life of peace.
Canada chose force over peace in Tyendinaga – the very birthplace of the founder of the Great Peace of the Haudenosaunee. Their prime leader stood aside while the police wrestled original sovereign people fighting to protect their right to exist and their requirement to protect the land to the ground. The wampum agreement principles went to the ground with them. Marc Miller had the Silver Covenant Chain in his hand. He was breaths away from making substantive efforts to reaffirm values that could have fundamentally made life for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people better. Instead he put the interests of his political party and the Crown first. Fortunately the laws of the land and the principles of peace were there before the Canadian nation state, they still exist, and they can still be picked up followed by good people who want to help preserve and care for the unborn generations that will follow us.