“I never thought the Six Nations Elected Council was this mean spirited”
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in crops at risk
Posted Friday July 7 2017
By Lynda Powless
Six Nations Band Council has erected four large no trespassing signs on the former Burtch Correctional Institute lands.
The signs went up Friday, (July 7 2017) morning.
The move comes after the Six Nations Band Council and a corporation it established to hold the former Burtch lands took a Six Nations woman to court last week for farming the lands. Kris Hill holds a lease to farm the lands from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council who have been managing the lands since 2006.
Now hundreds of thousands of dollars in crops have been put at risk after an Ontario Superior Court Judge issued a temporary injunction Wednesday ( June 28) stopping a Six Nations woman from continuing to farm Six Nations lands known as the former Burtch Correctional Institute lands.
The injunction stops Kris Hill of Six Nations, her workers or any member of the public of Six Nations community from entering the property until a trial is held in August.
Hill, who holds a lease with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) will be unable to tend to the crops during that time.
The Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) and the corporation it established to hold the lands in trust for Six Nations, sought the injunction to stop Kris Hill from farming the lands after saying they did not recognize the HCCC lease Hill has been farming and tending the lands under for the past three years.
Ontario Justice R. John Harper granted Hill an adjournment to August for a two day hearing but gave the SNEC an interium injunction to keep Hill and Jane and John Doe off the lands.
Hill said after the hearing “I am grateful for all the community support I have received in this. I want to believe that the Six Nation’s Elected Council is not this mean spirited but I guess they are.”
The court granted the injunction after Six Nations Elected Council lawyer Ben Jetten told the court the land was owned by a SNEC numbered corporation and that Hill did not have permission from the corporation to farm the lands. Jetton said Hill had from early May to address the trespassing issue. He said if Hill would suffer damages she could sue for them should she win the trial.
Jetten argued the SNEC and corporation needed to get on the land now to install a tile drainage system to allow for winter crops to go in later in the year.
Hill’s lawyer David Schiller sought the adjournment to better prepare for the trial. Justice Harper said in granting the adjournment that no evidence dealing with the trespassing had been put before him by the defense only a challenge to Ontario’s ability to grant the land to the corporation.
Jetten told Turtle Island News after the hearing, “the only people allowed on the property are those with permission from the elected council or corporation.”
Hill said she would meet with Haudenosaunee Chiefs and clanmothers to update them on what occurred at court and get their advice on how to proceed.
Hill has been farming and caring for the lands for the past three years on a lease issued by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs’ Council (HCCC). She holds a five year lease for farming the lands.The land is the site of the former Burtch Correctional Facility in the small town of Mt. Pleasant on the outskirts of the Six Nations reserve boundary.The HCCC has been managing the lands since 2006 and overseeing Ontario’s environmental clean up of the property.The lands were negotiated for return to Six Nations by the HCCC Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton in 2006. MacNaughton was the lead negotiator for the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations .Ontario representative former Premier, David Petersen, agreed to return the lands to Six Nations in the same manner they left under the Haldimand Proclamation.
Instead Ontario, under Premier Kathleen Wynne, returned the lands to a band council corporation whose sole shareholder is the elected band council.
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) agreed to continue to support the lease it issued to HIl.
An injunction seeking to remove Hill, was filed by the SNEC on its own behalf and on behalf of the Six Nations community along with the band created limited numbered corporation 9646035 Canada Ltd..
The notice claims farming activities are causing damage and irreparable harm to the Numbered Corporation, the Six Nations Elected Council and Six Nations.
The notice says the farming “is interferring with the Numbered Corporation and band council and Six Nations’ use and enjoyment of the land;
It also claims:
-That the Farmers Association can not be allowed to farm the land “for the benefit of the larger Six Nations community”;
-It claims that the farming activities may cause permanent harm to the land or impair the Farmers Association or any other person authorized by the Six Nations Elected Council from farming;
-That the SNEC is unable to engage a contractor to install drainage and tiles; -And that the SNEC and its Numbered Corporation are unable to put the land to any other use or generate income from the property.
The document says the Farmers Association ceased farming the lands in 2013 at which time Hill and her then husband entered the lands in 2013 “without the permission of the Ontario government.”
The document says the lands were not used in 2016 and that Kris Hill has other lands on Six Nations where she can undertake farming activity on.
SNECl Lands and Resources Director Lonny Bomberry signed the affidavit. He is also president of the numbered company 9646035. Phil Monture, a band council consultant, is the secretary of the numbered company.
Bomberry says in the document. Six Nations is administered and governed by the SNEC which is recognized as the official council of the Six Nations under the Indian Act.
He says in his affidavidt that legal title to the Burtch Road Property being farmed by Kris Hill, “was transferred from the Ontario Minister of Infrastructure to the Numbered Corporation on or about March 31, 2017.”
The SNEC is the sole shareholder of the Numbered Corporation and “for all practical purposes, controls the Numbered Corporation, the affidavidt says..”
He says he and Monture, were appointed by SNEC.
He said the corporation holds the Burtch Road property in trust for Six Nations as represented by the SNEC and the band council plans to apply to have the lands added to the reserve.
His affidavidt says “until that occurrs the SNEC plans on allowing the Six Nations Farmers’ Association to use the Burtch Road Property for communal farming.”
It says the association farmed the Burtch Road property from 2008 to 2013 with the permission of the Ontario government.
The affidavidt says the SNEC plans on hiring a contractor to install drainage and agricultural tiles to improve drainage and crop yield and the work needs to be done in advance of the association planting of winter wheat or other winter crops this fall. The affidavidt says the Ontario government has already provided funding for the drainage work and if not completed the SN EC will have to return the funding.
The affidavidt claims once the work is complete the association will “grow crops for the benefit of the community. The document says in the past the Farmers Associaton has invited community members to pick white corn and donates to the community.
The affidavidt says the SNEC or corporation have not allowed any other person to farm the Burtch lands and the lands are owned by the numbered corporation.
The affidavidt maintains that Hill is trespassing and has engaged in farming without the permission or consent of the Numbered Corporation or SNEC and is not a member of the Farmer’s Association.
The affidavidt also states her workers are not band members.
The affidavidt says that the property was transferred in April and locks put on the entrance gate that were cut off in mid-May.
Bomberry says that community members stated that K.J. Hill was farming the Burtch Road property.
On May 18, SNEC administrator Dayle Bomberry delivered a notice requiring her to vacate the property.
Lonny Bomberry said he received legal notice from Kris Hill’s lawyers saying that she intended to continue farming and had a lease with the Haudenosaune Confederacy Chiefs’ Council and the lands were registered in the Haudenosaunee land registry system two years earlier.
A fiery meeting between the two council’s last month ended after Elected Chief Ava Hill said she was standing behind the notice.
The dispute isn’t just between the two councils.
The dispute comes down to who owns the land…Canada or the Haudenosaunee.
In 2015 Ontario said it was ready to hand over the property after a $30 million environmental cleanup, but said it would only turn the land over to a corporation.
The move was suppose to appear as if the lands were not under either the Six Nations Elected Band Council or Confederacy control, but under a trust “for the people.”
But under the corporation the lands remain in Crown (Canada/Ontario) control.
Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill’s council, working with Ontario, placed the lands into a corporate trust and appointed its lands director Lonny Bomberry and its land research consultant Phil Monture to oversee the trust. Then it invited the Confederacy to have a seat on the board.
Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton said “The elected council says it has formed a trust and the band council has offered us a seat on their board, diminishing this council from a government to an individual on a board.”