Tag Archives: Ontario

Kawartha Nishnawbe block reconstruction work on Burleigh Falls Dam

Burleigh Falls Dam is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, now a national historic site operated by Parks Canada. The dam was originally constructed in 1912. (Dean Wood)

Group says barricades are over lack of consultation by Parks Canada

Members from an Ontario First Nation continue to block access to a dam reconstruction site because they say they were not properly consulted by Parks Canada.

Nodin Webb, leader and spokesperson for Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation, said his community isn’t necessarily opposed to the work on the Burleigh Falls Dam, but Parks Canada should’ve involved them in the decision-making process.

Two barricades were erected last week that prevent access to the work site in Burleigh Falls, Ont., 130 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

“We’re out there defending the land until we can get confirmation from Parks Canada that there will be no further construction or demolition until they consult us, a procedure they are legally required to do,” he said.

The Kawartha Nishnawbe have vowed not to move until Parks Canada properly consults with them about the reconstruction. (Submitted by Amber Seager)

The Kawartha Nishnawbe created a community near Burleigh Falls in the early 1900s with five families from nearby Curve Lake First Nation who had lost their Indian status through enfranchisement.

The dam, which was originally constructed in 1912, is a part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and is now a national historic site operated by Parks Canada.

The Parks Canada website indicates the dam is being fully rebuilt and construction is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2024.

Indigenous Services Canada said in an email Kawartha Nishnawbe is not recognized as an Indian Act band.

The community’s lawyer, Christopher Reid disagrees and has been exchanging emails with Parks Canada and the federal government.

“They took away status from these people and forced them off reserves, forced them to establish a separate community on their own where they literally cleared the land, built their homes without any assistance and built their community.”

Public safety

David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways with Parks Canada, said in a statement Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project.

Britton confirms Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and is working to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans.

Zhaawnong Webb, Nodin Webb and Jack Hoggarth at the blockade near the Burleigh Falls Dam construction site. (Submitted by Amanda Seager)

He also explained that in its current condition, the dam poses a risk.

“A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important walleye fishery.”

Webb denied there have been any offers of consultation but in email correspondence provided to CBC by Reid, Parks Canada offered to meet and share its plans with the Kawartha Nishnawbe in three separate messages.

Reid indicated the level of consultation offered by Britton and Parks Canada is different than that received by Curve Lake First Nation.

He said in a statement, “offering to meet is not nearly the same thing as engaging in the kind of consultations which are legally required and which they held with communities which have much less connection to Burleigh Falls than Kawartha Nishnawbe.”

Emily Whetung, chief of Curve Lake, wrote in a statement, “We recognize that the complicated history of the Kawartha Nishinawbe, their relationship to the land at Burleigh Falls, and their assertion with the federal government, and we respect that they have an independent perspective.

“However, the Burleigh Dam is located within the recognized pre-Confederation and Williams Treaties Territory, and we feel a responsibility to protect the environment and species in the area as the reconstruction project moves forward.”

By: Sean Vanderklis, Rhiannon Johnson · CBC News · Posted: Jan 21, 2021.


Indigenous land defenders at Caledonia site recall bitter 2006 dispute

A bus blocking Argyle Street South in Caledonia, Ont., as a group of labour councils and unions delivered food and support to land defenders at a land reclamation camp known as 1492 Land Back Lane on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

CALEDONIA, Ont. — The more things change in Caledonia, Ont., the more one group of long-standing land defenders says things stay the same.

Tense tableaus played out for months in the southwestern Ontario town in 2006 as Indigenous protesters clashed repeatedly with provincial police over the rights to land located near Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. Fourteen years later, some of the same protesters are experiencing deja-vu as they take up similar positions to continue the same fight.

“It was very, very similar,” Skyler Williams, 38, recalls, standing by the intersection that divides the scenes of past and present protest sites. “I was much younger (in 2006), and so my back hurts a little bit more some days.”

The present-day dispute is playing out across the road from the scene of the 2006 protests at a proposed housing development known as McKenzie Meadows.

Williams has been acting as a spokesperson for the land reclamation camp known as 1492 Land Back Lane at the site of the project being led by Foxgate Developments Inc.

The 2006 occupation dragged on for months, prompting political mudslinging between the provincial and federal governments. The 2020 iteration passed the 100-day mark last month, with protesters showing no signs of heading home.

Work was underway last Thursday on a wooden shelter at the demonstrators’ tent camp that’s also home to lively pets, works of art in progress, small gardens and a campfire. Funds are being raised to build tiny homes as winter weather approaches.

Central to the Haudenosaunee land defenders’ fight is a 1784 agreement with the British known as the Haldimand Proclamation, promising lands along the Grand River they maintain were never surrendered.

Over his lifetime, Williams has watched housing developments pop up across the farm town of Caledonia, encroaching on the territory he and others are fighting to protect.

“We have to be able to say no,” he said. “If they’re going to continue to push into Six Nations territory and hem us in, you can expect resistance.”

Thirty-three people, including Williams, have been arrested since the protests began in the summer. Most have been charged with violating a court order.

Tensions flared again briefly in recent weeks when an Ontario judge issued a permanent injunction ordering people off the land indefinitely.

Hours after the Oct. 22 ruling, the demonstrators accused police of firing rubber bullets and using a stun gun, injuring two. Police, in turn, alleged protesters damaged a cruiser.

Blockades went up later that day, with portions of road dug up with machinery and a school bus bearing the words “Land Back Tours” parked in the middle of Argyle Street.

Signs of the standoff were still visible one week later. Provincial police cars were stationed near the Argyle Street bus blockade on Thursday and by the main entrance to the camp off McKenzie Road.

Three cruisers were parked a few metres from Nancy Chalmers’ driveway.

“I’m kind of sitting in the middle of this stew,” Chalmers said from her front doorway.

The Caledonia resident of more than 20 years said she sympathizes with her neighbours’ cause, but she’s frustrated with both the predictable cycle and the disruptions to her daily life.

“I just wish this would get resolved peacefully,” she said.

Caledonia mayor Ken Hewitt has taken a harsher line with the demonstrators, calling for their arrests.

He’s also asked the federal government to take a hand in negotiations.

Kahsenniyo Williams, Skyler’s wife, spoke about the aggression her family has faced during a spoken word poetry performance from inside the blockaded area on Thursday.

She performed for a university class via Zoom, with the Grand River as her backdrop, a waterway she calls “the map of the land that we’re responsible for.”

She said online connectivity has been helpful with reaching supporters who can’t make it down to the site.

“Everyone’s been doing the best that they can to manoeuvre through COVID, and it also opens up the opportunity for more creative settings,” she said.

But in-person supporters have trickled in as well, bringing fresh perspectives on the long-time fight along with supplies and companionship.

Jace House from the Quebec Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi arrived last week. He was part of a community-led action this fall about over-hunting of moose in his area, and dealt with an injunction himself at the time.

He sees similar tactics being used against Indigenous land defenders across the country, and said he’s been welcomed by the people at the Land Back Lane camp.

“We really are in the same boat,” House said.

He said unity across Indigenous communities will be important as people continue advocating for their land, water, hunting and fishing rights.

“I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that the Canadian government’s not going to fix it for us, so we’re trying to do our best with what we have to just assert ourselves,” House said.

Haudenosaunee lawyer Beverly Jacobs said the federal government needs to get involved in resolving the dispute, starting with a moratorium on all developments.

“Canada needs to come to the table with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and they need to negotiate,” the associate dean at the University of Windsor’s law faculty said by phone.

“The deeper underlying land issues need to be addressed. Otherwise, this is going to continue to be a cycle, because our people are tired of being silent.”

A statement from the office of the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations said Canada is committed to “continuing to work collaboratively to address Six Nations’ historical claims and land rights issues.”

“We are actively working with the community and look forward to meeting at the earliest opportunity,” the statement said.

Seeds planted at the McKenzie Road camp have sprouted into tomato plants and sunflowers in the months since the occupation began.

When asked what he’d like to see on the land, Williams pointed to the return of natural life at the 2006 protest site which was eventually purchased by the province to end the dispute.

“Fifteen years have passed and all the topsoil has regrown, trees have grown there, animals are coming back,” he said. “If that’s what needs to happen, then that’s what needs to happen. Just to let nature take its course.”

By Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press, Published November 1, 2020


Woman charged in connection with triple homicide near Oneida Nation

(Left to right) Michael Shane Jamieson, Melissa Trudy Miller, and Alan Grant Porter, are pictured in this composite image of photos released by Ontario Provincial Police on Nov 15, 2018. (Handout /OPP)

Six Nations woman charged with accessory to murder

An arrest has been made in connection to the murder of three people just outside the Oneida of the Thames First Nation in Ontario.

The deceased, Melissa Miller, Alan Porter and Michael Jamieson, were all members of Six Nations of the Grand River, a First Nations community near Brantford Ont.

They were found dead with a stolen grey 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck in a field around 10 a.m. on Nov. 4., in Middlesex County. Police would not say how the victims died.

According to media reports, Ontario Provincial Police, with the assistance of the Six Nations Police Service, arrested 36-year-old Kirsten Bomberry of Six Nations on Friday and charged her with three counts of accessory after the fact to murder.

Bomberry briefly appeared in court on Saturday and was remanded into custody.

The court case is expected to take place in London Ont and a publication ban is now in effect.

This is the first arrest in connection to the triple murder.

OPP say there will be periodic closures in Six Nations as their investigation continues, in area of 4th Line at Tuscarora Road and Onondaga Road.

The landfill in Six Nations will remain open but will only be accessible from Onondaga Road. The closures are expected to last for a several days.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police tip-line at ‪1-844-677-5050‬, or the Six Nations Police Service at ‪519-445-2811‬. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at ‪1-800-222-8477‬ (TIPS)

Connection to similar incident in 2017

CTV News reports, Miller was seven months pregnant with a boy at the time of her death.

Police say Miller and Porter were cousins and Porter and Jamieson were close friends.

Sources tell CTV that Miller was Douglas Hill’s common-law wife.

Hill another Six Nations man, was found dead in 2017, in Oneida Nation of the Thames territory, not far from the location of the triple murder. Four people were charged in connection with his case including a 17-year-old girl.

The charges were all dismissed last month.

By Black Powder, RPM Staff

Talks on with Indigenous Demonstrators to Reopen Pinery Provincial Park


The Ministry of Natural Resources wants a trailer at the park entrance moved

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says talks continue in an effort to resolve an issue that led to the closure of a provincial park nearly two weeks ago.

Pinery Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario was closed to the public on Nov. 9 after demonstrators set up a trailer by the front gate in support of what police said was a land claim.

Ministry spokeswoman Emily Kirk says the trailer has been moved so that it now blocks the park entrance.

Kirk says the ministry and Ontario Provincial Police are involved in discussions with the individuals involved.

The park near Grand Bend, Ont., boasts about 10 kilometres of sand beach along Lake Huron and 21 square kilometres of forests and rolling dunes.

It has been the site of land claim protests in the past.

An Indigenous family led by demonstrator Maynard T. George has made several attempts to “repossess” Pinery Provincial Park in past years, saying the land belongs to approximately 100 of his great-grandfather’s descendants.

In 2004, then Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant told the legislature that George’s claim was “an individual grievance” and not a land claim.

Bryant noted that the First Nations in the area — Kettle and Stony Point First Nation — had said that they didn’t endorse the grievance and that they have no land claim at Pinery.

Pinery Park is located near the former Ipperwash Provincial Park is where a land claim demonstration turned deadly in 1995 when a police sniper killed Dudley George — no relation to Maynard George.

The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation approved the deal with the federal government in 2015 to settle that claim.

The Canadian Press


Government to Announce Payout of $800M to Indigenous Victims of ’60s Scoop

Government to announce payout of $800M to Indigenous victims of ’60s Scoop

Sources say the agreement includes a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant.

The federal government has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to survivors of the ‘60s Scoop for the harm suffered by Indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural identities by being placed with non-native families, The Canadian Press has learned.

The national settlement with an estimated 20,000 victims, to be announced Friday by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, is aimed at resolving numerous related lawsuits, most notable among them a successful class action in Ontario.

Confidential details of the agreement include a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant, to a maximum of $750 million, sources said.

In addition, sources familiar with the deal said the government would set aside a further $50 million for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation, a key demand of the representative plaintiff in Ontario, Marcia Brown Martel.

Spokespeople for both Bennett and the plaintiffs would only confirm an announcement was pending Friday, but refused to elaborate.

“The (parties) have agreed to work towards a comprehensive resolution and discussions are in progress,” Bennett’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “As the negotiations are ongoing and confidential, we cannot provide further information at this time.”

The sources said the government has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees — estimated at about $75 million — separately, meaning the full amount of the settlement will go to the victims and the healing centre, to be established in the coming months, sources said.

The settlement would be worth at least $800 million and include Inuit victims, the sources said. The final amount is less than the $1.3 billion Brown Martel had sought for victims of the Ontario Scoop in which at-risk on-reserve Indigenous children were placed in non-Aboriginal homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of a federal-provincial agreement.

In an unprecedented class action begun in 2009, Brown Martel, chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation, maintained the government had been negligent in protecting her and about 16,000 other on-reserve children from the lasting harm they suffered from being alienated from their heritage.

Brown Martel, a member of the Temagami First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ont., was taken by child welfare officials and adopted by a non-native family. She later discovered the Canadian government had declared her original identity dead.

Her lawsuit, among some 17 others in Canada, is the only one to have been certified as a class action. Her suit sparked more than eight years of litigation in which the government fought tooth and nail against the claim.

However, in February, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba sided with Brown Martel, finding the government liable for the harm the ‘60s Scoop caused. Belobaba was firm in rejecting the government’s arguments that the 1960s were different times and that it had acted with good intentions in line with prevailing standards.

While Bennett said at the time she would not appeal the ruling and hoped for a negotiated settlement with all affected Indigenous children, federal lawyers appeared to be trying to get around Belobaba’s ruling. Among other things, they attempted to argue individuals would have to prove damages on a case-by-case basis.

A court hearing to determine damages in the Ontario action, scheduled for three days next week, has been scrapped in light of the negotiated resolution, which took place under Federal Court Judge Michel Shore.

One source said some aspects of the many claims might still have to be settled but called Friday’s announcement a “significant” step toward resolving the ‘60s Scoop issue — part of the Liberal government’s promise under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people a priority.

Jeffery Wilson, one of Brown Martel’s lawyers, has previously said the class action was the first anywhere to recognize the importance of a person’s cultural heritage and the individual harm caused when it is lost.

The Canadian Press