The Six Nations Band Council called for calm on Saturday following clashes between police and demonstrators at a proposed housing development site. Roads have been blocked with barricades and overturned vehicles, a hydro pole was burned resulting in a temporary loss of power to several residences. At the heart of the problem is the long-standing clash between hereditary chiefs and elected band councils. The hereditary chiefs say the elected band councils were imposed on first nations people by colonial governments as a means of controlling them.
Six Nations Elected Council issued a statement yesterday saying the community should focus on addressing land claims with the federal and provincial governments, describing it as a goal all members share despite other differences of opinion.
“We hope in the days ahead, that we can work in unity to focus on the common goal of addressing our Six Nations Land Claims,” the statement said. “It’s time for the federal and provincial governments to right their wrongs.”
In the statement the council condemned the permanent injunction issued by a judge Thursday, ordering all demonstrators off the land reclamation camp known as 1492 Land Back Lane. They described the injunction as an example of systemic racism in Canada’s judiciary.
Violence in the area intensified shortly after Justice John Harper’s ruling, with OPP cursers sustaining damage and the use of rubber bullets by police.
“We do not condone the violence or destruction of property and we are calling for calm to refocus our minds,” the council’s statement said. But the statement also acknowledged the anger that their decision to sell the Mackenzie Meadows property to a developer. “We recognize that the accommodation agreement at Mackenzie Meadows is one of the concerns. We want you to know that we did it because we thought it was a benefit to our community. We have heard from many community members that they felt it was not the best decision for the Territory and we are listening. We are bound to the agreement but please know that we have learned from it. We commit to you that we can, and will do better.”
Premier Doug Ford said Friday that he wants dialogue with the demonstrators, while describing those who engaged in the alleged violence as “bad apples.”“I don’t know if a few folks are going rogue, but the way you get things settled is by sitting around the table, talking about solutions,” Ford said. “You don’t go after our police.”