Haldimand, Six Nations find common ground

by Bill Jackson - The Regional
May 13, 2009

It seems that Haldimand Council and at least one form of Six Nations government are ready to try to move forward together by discussing items of mutual interest, but some members are still at a stalemate when it comes to issues involving land claims, development and the Caledonia occupation site

Various members of the Six Nations Elected Council still believe that Haldimand Councillors need to learn more about land claims and some say they won't move forward on any joint initiatives related to the Douglas Creek Estates property until it is returned to Six Nations.

The two sides met Monday in Cayuga along with several senior staff members to discuss items of mutual concern in an open forum. And while both sides felt that progress was made on several fronts such as future water needs and waste disposal, many councillors are standing firm when it comes to the issues that have taken center stage over the past three-and-a-half years.

After almost two hours of discussion pertaining to unrelated themes, Six Nations District Three Coun. Levi White said he didn't agree with "tip toeing" around the land claims situation, and that Six Nations is willing to hold a meeting to explain their claims to Haldimand officials.

However, Haldimand's Ward Six Coun. Lorne Boyko said members of county council have educated themselves to the best of their ability and have lobbied upper levels of government to expedite land claims.

"We can't change your land claims one little bit," he stressed.

Boyko didn't want to get "bogged down" on issues involving the federal and provincial governments and Six Nations. Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer agreed and said the discussion was drifting off topic because the municipality cannot solve land claims.

Yet White argued that the county is involved with land claims because it's trying to develop the land.

Haldimand Councillors need to learn background so they can explain to their constituents why "Indians" are on the land, he said.

Brantford ignored the offer of information "and look at what happened to them," he stressed.

Six Nations Elected Chief Bill Montour feels land claim negotiations at the main table have given all sides the run around.

Federal and provincial officials have asked Six Nations to contemplate possible uses for the Douglas Creek site such as a park or interpretive centre to explain the area's history, he said. Together he hopes both communities can get Ontario to do something with the land. He said that both sides have to take a message to the province on how they can work together.

White said he would like to see the house and laneway removed from DCE and the land restored to a natural area with plants and trees.

However when some Haldimand Councillors suggested a clean-up day to revitalize the site, some Six Nations Councillors objected.

District One Coun. Dave Hill said that if Caledonia and Six Nations clean up the site together there will be a big fight between people who hate each other.

District Four Coun. Helen Miller said she wouldn't plan any joint initiatives on DCE until the land had been returned to Six Nations as the rightful owner.

Haldimand's Ward Two Coun. Buck Slot made his stance just as clear, saying that he would lobby for resolutions to land claims, but not to turn DCE over to Six Nations.

If negotiations found that the property belonged to Six Nations, Sloat said he would live with that.

For now "It doesn't matter whose property it is, it still needs to be cleaned up," he emphasized.

Trainer said the property was an eyesore and suggested that both sides lobby the province to clean up the site.

Both sides agreed to continue with work that's been done to investigate the feasibility of a water pipeline from Lake Erie as well as Six Nations' plan to use thermal oxidation as an alternative form of waste disposal.

Many councillors on both sides were positive about opening up dialogue.

"We want to live in harmony and work together, so I'm very with what's happened here today," Trainer stated.