“We are not the criminals”: Six Nations Land Defenders Dick Hill and Gene Johns Statement to the Court
April 2, 2012
Today, we are telling the court that – yes, we attended at development sites and caused a delay in construction. We appreciate that a judge will find us “guilty” of mischief under Canadian law. At the end of this long court process, we are affirmed that there is no justice.
When a Canadian judge recognizes that there is development happening on treaty land and there has been no negotiation or consultation prior to shovels in the ground, we are the criminals for attending at the site and demanding pause to allow for some discussion to occur with Six Nations? This is not justice. This is more of the same. This is the reason why Onkwehonwe people cannot trust the police, the courts or the Canadian governments.
Our experience shows us that we cannot trust the words offered to Onkwehone people. Stephen Harper’s Apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools system, Canada’s commitment to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – these are recent examples of words that fly in the face of how the government is actually treating our people.
We hear these words spoken in court – that the “honour of the Crown” is always at stake when dealing with Onkwehonwe people. Treaties were made because the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) chose to be Allies with the Crown. The City of Brantford, the Province and Canada behave like these treaties never happened. In our case, the judge recognized that no negotiations or consultations have occurred on any of the sites listed in the City of Brantford’s injunction. Every one of these sites has been recognized by the federal government as part of a legitimate “land claim” and the jurisdiction, ownership and interests in the land is unsettled. No reconciliation, no benefit or consideration whatsoever to Six Nations – only arrest, jail and the appalling experience of being prosecuted in a criminal court. Where is the honour in this?
We know directly from City officials, including former councillor James Calnan and sitting Mayor Chris Friel, that the City of Brantford has a strategy to use criminal law to stop any Onkwehonwe protests. That strategy, developed with the direct participation of the Brantford Police Service, came to a head with bail conditions preventing anyone who was arrested from coming within 1.5 kilometres of any “land development site…in which a land claim protest is taking place”. You forced us to go into a Canadian court to have this condition challenged knowing that your side is chewing up the land with no regard for treaties, no good faith efforts at negotiations and consultation, and no options for us but to sit back and watch the land destroyed.
When Canada and Ontario play games instead of negotiate in good faith, when our land and our future is bargained away without the slightest courtesy to our inherent rights – what options are we left with?
In our lifetimes, we have seen the size of Brantford double and Caledonia grow from a bunch of houses on the river. Despite the fact of our treaties, this development goes ahead without any involvement from Six Nations. Canadian law says that there must be negotiation to settle the long-standing issues and consultation before anything. Who holds Canada accountable for failing to live up to their legal promises? No one.
There is no justice for us in any Canadian court, only towers of lawyers and bottomless pockets ready to use the club of Canadian law to continue your assumed jurisdiction over our land and our people.
We have no voice in the Canadian criminal justice system; we could sit in court talking until we are blue in the face but no one is listening because the Onkwehonwe voice does not fit into Canadian law. Growing up native is about looking over your shoulder because a justice system says “we are going to getcha”.
We are not against development, we are against the all out attack on our children and the future of our people as we get more and more land-locked on the “reserve”. As Haudenosaunee men, we live by our responsibilities under the Kaianereh’ko:wa (Great Law of Peace) and we understand what needs to be done. We will protect this land until such time that the sun does not shine, the rivers do not flow and the grass grows no longer. There is no judge, no court that will ever stop us from doing our duty to our people and the Creator.
Six Nations of The Grand River
For more information or to arrange for an interview, contact:
Counsel to Dick Hill & Gene Johns