Letters: Six Nations councillor Helen Miller District 4 Report

Helen Miller

Helen Miller

District 4 Report
August, September, October, December 2018
Councillor Helen Miller

This period I attended the majority of regular Committee of the Whole and General Council meetings, internal committees as well as the Cannabis community meetings and election code meeting. I also attended other meetings and events. For the first time Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) hosted a community gathering for food and fellowship. This event was well attended. SNEC held its annual budget meetings where the various directors presented their proposed budgets for review and approval. SNEC also held an awards brunch this period that combined the Wilma General Award, Community Treasures Awards, attendance and academic awards.
The SNEC and the Haudenosaunne Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) met at the Woodland Cultural Centre in a closed meeting on Dec. 17.Due to confidentiality I can’t tell all the discussion that took place but I can say the SNEC hoped for a mutual agreement as to how the two councils could work together on important community issues. Unfortunately, that agreement didn’t happen.
As SNEC’s representative on the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand Norfolk board I arranged a meeting with the board chair and some staff to meet with Arliss Skye, social services director, to discuss ways how the board and Social Services could work together on cultural events and such for the betterment of the Six Nations’ children in their care. In addition I attended the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies annual two-day conference in Rama.
SNEC formed a new taxation committee to help Six Nations farmers fight against having to pay excise tax on gasoline used for farming. I am the chair of this committee. I’m told there was a time when the Six Nations farmers was rebated for this tax but at some point this stopped. I understand non-native farmers continue to get the rebate. Currently, we are researching and gathering information. I plan to meet with MP Phil McColeman to see if he can offer any help and hopefully get a meeting with the Ontario Ministry of Finance. There isn’t a lot of information on First Nations farming and taxation because most reserves in Ontario don’t have the level of farming Six Nations has.
For the first time I participated in a Justice Circle. The circle was set up by Six Nations Justice Department to help a young mother deal with a housing issue and she asked me to attend for support. I found this type of mediation different and very effective.
Last year Ellen Rose Jamieson, coordinator of the Six Nations Food Bank (SNFB), informed me the committee wanted to build their own building but they needed land. So I met with the Six Nations Food Bank Committee, chaired by Mary Monture, to talk about a new building. The committeewanted land that was centrally located with infrastructure already in place. So I brought the issue to council and staff started looking around for land. Fortunately, there was a small piece of land off Cao Lane behind GREAT that we thought would work. The food bank committee hired K.L. Martin to assess if the land was suitable. So happy to announce the land has been turned over to the food bank committee on the condition if the food bank closes the land will revert back to the SNEC.
In October GREAT held its annual three-day policy retreat in Niagara Falls. I represent the SNEC on the committee. Much work was accomplished and we managed to save significant money by completing the work in two days as opposed to three days. So kudos to us.
Also in October I attended Lands Membership’s two-day policy retreat in Niagara Falls. Again much work was accomplished reviewing and changing policies. Of particular concern is Bill C-3 (McIvor vs Canada) which granted Indian status to grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc. of women who lost their status prior to 1985. Jan Burning, lands membership director, predicted about 10,000 new members would be added to Six Nations membership list. Now we have Bill S-3 (Descheneaux vs Canada) which grants status going back to 1869 to descendants of the women who lost their status. Again it’s predicted some 70,000 new members could be added to Six Nations membership list. The problem is the federal government isn’t providing additional money for all these new members. Bill C-3 and S-3 are not processed at Six Nations but by Indian Affairs who then provides a list of added names to our membership office. Already our membership office has identified some new members who shouldn’t have qualified for status.
In December SNEC received its first payment of $4.5 million from the Casino Brantford deal. Last year the councillors held district meetings to find out what people thought this money should be spent on and we have compiled a significant list of ideas. More support for the elderly, an addictions treatment centre and installing more water lines topped the list. Well, we know this amount of money can’t fund everything. I advocated for SNEC to hold a community meeting to go over the list so the community could help us prioritize what this money should be spent on. But so far no decision has been made about having a community meeting. Remember the $4.5 million is to be paid annually.
I continue the fight against closed meetings. Been at it for 14 years now and have made little headway. All closed meetings are confidential which means councillors are bound by confidentiality from telling our constituents what is going on and what decisions are being made. This is not right folks. Yes there are issues needing to be discussed in private such as personnel or litigation but decisions that impact the community should not be made in a closed meeting. Closed meetings should be front and center come election time. So this is my final report for 2018.

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