County requested Six Nations approval for special event

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

May 27, 2009

Unbeknownst to some people, Haldimand County asked a local woman to get letters of support from Six Nations Elected Chief, David General and Allan MacNaughton of the Six Nations Confederacy prior to a planned flag raising event in Caledonia back in 2007.

The letter addressed to Lisa Parent of the HELP Funding Society said that that information, as well as $5 million in liability insurance and a "letter of support approval from recognized representative of the current occupiers of the property (Douglas Creek Estates)" was "required by Haldimand County to complete" a special event application.

"The letters should confirm that they support the proposal and will not interfere with the event including the Canadian Flag being placed beside the current flags on Argyle Street."

The letter was signed by Heather Flaherty, the county's community development coordinator.

Fast forward to May 20, 2009. Merlyn Kinrade received a letter just five days prior to his flag raising event last Sunday an event that had been in the works for the better part of two months.

"It has been brought to our attention that a Flag raising Event has been planned for Sunday, May 24th, 2009 in Caledonia," the letter states.

"While the county attempts to accommodate event timelines, typically for all events occurring prior to September 31st, the deadline for applications is April 30th."

Kinrade said he'd like to see Six Nations' event applications for parades and other events that have taken place on roads and properties within the county's jurisdiction.

Six Nations activists have organized events such to mark their takeover of the Douglas Creek Estates property as well as an OPP raid on April 20, 2006. According to Kinrade there should be at least six special event applications filed with the county by now.

"If we were aware of it they'd have to go through the same process," said Haldimand's GM of Community Services, Hugh Hanly. "I'm not aware of any march on roads or anything like that that's taken place. So I mean if we would have known ahead of time we would have said "For liability" purposes, if you're going to use municipal property, whether it's a road or community centre, you need permission."

Hanly said the county learned of last Sunday's flag raising event through general information such as letters to the editor in local newspapers.

"We're not trying to stop it, we want to make sure that things are done right."

As for the 2007 letter to Parent, Hanly said letters of approval that were required from Six Nations leaders were requested in a spirit of goodwill.

"We don't want acrimony.

Even though the county's letter to Parent said that support from Six Nations leaders was "required to complete a special event application, Flaherty said that it was simply requested to create cooperation with everybody at the time.

"I don't need Six Nations approval to have an event on municipal property," she said. "I think it was that given the times,  given what was happening at that time, that was just an additional thing to make sure everybody knew about it."

Special event applications should be viewed as a positive to ensure events go smoothly, Flaherty added.

"It's a safety measure as well."