Chief Del Riley stops unlawful eviction from Indigenous lands in Shawanaga First Nation
Former National Chief Del Riley informed the Provincial sheriff that she has no jurisdiction on unceded Indigenous territory as over a dozen gathered to prevent eviction.
SHAWANAGA FIRST NATION – On Tuesday, July 13th, a provincial sheriff, backed by at least 6 Anishinabek Police Services (APS) officers attempted to enforce a provincial eviction order on unceded Indigenous land at 21 Shebeshekong Road North. The order was requested by the Indian Act Band Council, which under the leadership of former Chief Wayne Pamajewon, had gone to provincial court in an attempt to evict Shawanaga band member Tim Ladouceur and his wife Jo-An Gascon from the home they had been living in for the last eight years.
Tim and Jo-an had been moved into the house by the former Chief, but when they arrived, they found the building un-usable. The yard was completely filled with junk, and the house was infested with black mold. The roof leaked, there was no running water or electricity, and the couple had to boil snow for water to drink and bathe, and live in a small trailer in -20 weather as they rebuilt the home. The couple spent large amounts of their time and money to remove the mold, fix the roof, and got running water and electricity going again.
The land the couple is living on belongs to the 450 acre Kewaquado homestead, which was granted to the family by King George because of the loss of their lands in the United States after the war of 1812. In that war, Indigenous people allied to the British Crown played a crucial role in keeping the Americans from annexing upper and lower Canada. In compensation for their military support, the Kewaquado’s and four other families had over 1000 acres of “King George land” deeded to them, which later became the foundation of Shawanaga territory. Such land patents are similar to the Haldimand Proclamation for the Mohawks and such others of the Six Nations, and were intended to belong to the Indigenous people in question for as long as they didn’t surrender it to the Crown.
The home that Tim and Jo-An moved into is located on the Kewaquado estate. The band unilaterally seized Kewaquado lands without permission in the 1960s, and built over 20 homes on lots along Shebeshekong Road. The heirs of the Kewaquado estate, Sam and Mary Kewaquado protested the seizure of their lands, and Sam authored dozens of letters of protest against the taking of family lands.
Tim and Jo-An however, got along extremely well with Sam and Mary, and became like family to them. So much so that in 2015-16 both Tim and Jo-An were adopted into the family through a traditional ceremony. Tim and Jo-an were given explicit permission to live on the Kewaquado estate, and to farm the lands along the west side of Shebeshekong Road by Sam and Mary. They built a farm and raised chickens, ducks, rabbits, and turkeys for local consumption. Tim added his research and writing skills to Sam’s and they worked together to call out Band Council corruption. This led former Chief Wayne Pamajewon to try and evict Tim and Jo-An from the Kewaquado estate.
A court process was launched by the band in December 2020 and concluded in February 2021. Tim and Jo-An allege that Band Manager Adam Good misrepresented the facts in their occupancy of the home, and their lawyer did not have time to prepare the case so that their arguments and evidence were not raised in court. The band council was represented by lawyers Jay Hebert and Cara Valiquette of Falls Law Group of Bracebridge. The Provincial court system then ruled that it would send its sheriff to remove Tim and Jo-An from the unceded Indigenous lands of the Kewaquado estate which had been usurped by Band Council.
After the court ruling, Tim and Jo-An hoped that the change of leadership in June of 2021 would mean that Wayne Pamajewon’s vendetta would end. Tim sent four letters to the newly elected Chief Adam Pawis and a council consisting of Head Councillor Candace Gerouz, Dan Pawis, Alfred Stevens, Sherrill Judge and Kyla Judge. Despite a promise of a meeting, the new Chief and Council have so far refused to meet.
Eviction threats prompt heart attacks, Band refuses to meet
In the lead up to the attempted eviction, Jo-An suffered several minor heart attacks from the stress. She has suffered 4 in the last two years and two of them in the last month. Concerned for her health, Sergeant Dory of the APS attempted to broker a meeting with Band Council but to no effect.
Tim and Jo-An are both disabled and in their mid-50s and had no way to move their belongings from the home. Faced with the threat of eviction by armed enforcers of the Province, they reached out for help. It was then that a group of elders in the community descended from the Kewaquado family stepped up and asked for Hereditary Crane Clan Chief Del Riley to get involved. Chief Riley was appointed by Tim to be his representative, and when the Sheriff arrived on July 13th, Chief Riley and a group of a dozen supporters were there to stand by Tim and Jo-An.
When the Sheriff arrived, Chief Riley informed her there was an issue with her very presence on the Territory by stating “Currently you are trespassing unless you have been invited by an Indian to be on the reserve.” The sheriff replied “I know” but said she was “just there to do my job.”
After refusing to leave and knocking on the back windows of the house Sgt. Cook and the Sheriff were able to talk to Mr. Ladouceur through his screen door. The Sheriff told Ladouceur she was there to “vacate the property” and said that “I am supposed to deliver vacant possession to the band.” She explained what she wanted to happen: “you would gather some things that you need, just temporary things until we get situated, and then you have 72 hours to come back to clean up your house.”
Though his voice was muffled through the screen door, Mr. Ladouceur could be heard explaining to the Sheriff that he appreciated she was just doing her job but that she should know that the issues went much much deeper than what she was aware of. She agreed by saying, “Yes it goes much deeper.” In the end she wished Ladouceur a good day and left the area in an all-white SUV bearing no logo other than the government of Ontario.
For more information about Tim and Jo-An’s situation please visit www.ShawanagaFire.org. The letter that Chief Riley provided to the Sheriff and Band Council is reproduced below.
July 13, 2001 Letter from Chief Riley
July 13, 2021
To: Sheriff W. Schroeder, Justice E.J. Koke, Lawyer Jay Herbert, Chief and Council of Shawanaga First Nation
Cc: Tim Ladouceur, Sgt. Dory Cook, Insp. Barry Petahtegoose
From: Delbert Riley, Hereditary Crane Clan Chief
I am writing this letter in my capacity as representative for Tim Ladouceur and his wife Jo-An Gascon. Tim is a Band Member of Shawanaga First Nation and he and Jo-An reside at 21 Shebeshekong Road North, on the unceded Indigenous lands of the Kewaquado estate located in Shawanaga First Nation.
I have been encouraged to write this letter by traditional people in Shawanaga First Nation who see the matter of Mr. Ladouceur’s attempted eviction as a serious issue affecting their Aboriginal and Treaty rights which has been incorrectly handled by the former Chief, the Band Council administrator, and the Provincial Courts of Ontario. The people want to see an honest and factual resolution of this matter and have asked me to lend my expertise to address the issue.
As a Hereditary Crane Clan Chief, a former leader of the National Indian Brotherhood, past president of the Union of Ontario Indians, and former chairman of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, I am a recognized expert in the matter of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. I have over 20 years of experience in directly negotiating and resolving land claims, and over 50 years of experience with Indigenous political organizations. As a leader of the National Indian Brotherhood I was responsible for negotiating four sections added to the Canadian Constitution – including Sections 25 and 35 – and so I am well acquainted with their intention and meaning.
In my estimation, the June 8th, 2021 Eviction order signed by Sheriff W. Schroeder is ultra vires because the Provincial administration does not have any jurisdiction over the land in question. The Eviction order violates Sections 25 and 35 of the Canadian Constitution as it violates the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the people of Shawanaga First Nation. We are unable to locate any document that shows where the province has any agreement with the First Nation to include their treaty lands within Provincial boundaries.
The land in question was deeded to the Kewaquado family as compensation for the loss of their lands in the United States due to their alliance with the British Crown in the War of 1812. They along with four other families were deeded lots totalling over 1000 acres of land by King George that were later added into the Shawanaga First Nation reserve and referenced in the 1850 Indian Protection Act and the 1854 Rowan Proclamation. The Rowan Proclamation recognizes the lands of Shawanaga First Nation – including the Kewaquado estate – as unceded Indigenous land.
The Kewaquado estate thus has the same status as unceded Indigenous land elsewhere on Turtle Island – as recognized by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Royal Proclamation not only has the force of law, it is part of Section 35 and 25 of the Canadian Constitution. There is a process for land surrender under the Royal Proclamation, and there has been no surrender of the lands of the Kewaquado estate. Unless someone can produce a surrender document for it, that is how it remains. The Province cannot get a surrender for these lands or unilaterally seize them because they are not a state or a nation, but rather an administrative body of the Crown.
The ownership of the land remains in the hands of the Kewaquado family which has lived on their lands without interruption. Sam Kewaquado Sr. and Mary Kewaquado as the rightful heirs to these lands adopted Jo-an and Tim into their family in accordance with the customs of the Wahwashkesh clan of the Pottawattomie and gave them the right to live on the lands of the family estate and to farm the lands on the west side of Shebeshekong Rd.
Unless the province can provide proof of a surrender of the lands of the Kewaquado family in Shawanaga First Nation, I respectfully ask on behalf of Tim Ladouceur and his wife Jo-An Gascon and the traditional people of Shawanaga First Nation, that the Sheriff and the Provincial Courts cease and desist in any further efforts to evict Mr. Ladouceur and Ms. Gascon.
Should the Shawanaga First Nation Elected Band Council wish to pursue this matter further, it is very important that a meeting be organized with all participants having an interest in this matter, so that all the facts may be put on the table and this matter peacefully resolved. I would be glad to assist in any such efforts to achieve a fair and final resolution of this matter.
Hereditary Crane Clan Chief Delbert Riley