By Lynda Powless
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND- A Six Nations family who has hosted a lantern festival in the past is confused why a Toronto firm is claiming their family is holding the festival this July . “We don’t know anything about this,” a member of the Johnson family told Turtle Island Friday evening.
She said they had no intention of holding the festival and it had not even been in their plans.. “With COVID going on and my father not well we would never agree to hold this. I don’t where it came from,” she said. She said they had been receiving texts and phone calls from people who read Turtle Island News’ article on a Toronto firm advertising the event.
She stressed there is nothing going to happen on the 31st. “I am going to be there and nothing is happening. It has nothing to do with us. Nothing is happening,” she said.
She said she doesn’t know why the Toronto firm said the event was happening. “I have no idea why they did that. Maybe it was in their system and automatically renewed it but we aren’t having any kind of festival and if anyone shows up I will be here to send them home. We wouldn’t do something like this during COVID,” she said
Six Nations Police learned of the event from a text message and said they will be speaking with organizers of the porposed lantern festival the Toronto firm claimed was being planned for this summer at Six Nations.
Six Nations Police Chief Darren Montour said earlier if it had been planned police wiould be speaking with organizers.
“Depending on what is going on at that time with Six Nations lockdown guidelines, if we are in the black or red, we will do what we can to prevent it,” he said Friday. He said he only learned of the event in a text from a community member.
“We have not been approached from anyone about this being held,” he said. He said he was surprised a huge event such as a Lantern Festival would be, being planned, at this time. “Why is this being planned when we are still in a pandemic. We are in lockdown and we are losing community members but someone wants to have a big party. We will be looking into this.”
He said attracting individuals from pandemic hot zones like the Toronto area is a major concern along with concerns over the potential size of the event, traffic, and if the world is still in a pandemic and what Six Nations guidelines say . He said he will also be speaking to organizers about alcohol and liquor being available but added it hasn’t been an issue in the past.
“I will be bringing this to the attention of the (Six Nations) Emergency Control Group, as well as, look at guidelines and the re-opening Ontario Act to see what may apply here.”
He added “It’s good that we got a heads up and it didn’t wait until the end of July for us to find out.”
Six Nations has seen three lantern festivals held in the past both jamming traffic in and out of the community for hours with people walking in the dark along roads to find their vehicles. Lanterns were lit and released floating into wooded areas and fields.
Police Chief Montour said if the Six Nations Elected Council and Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council have no objections to the event police will meet with organizers to ensure they have a plan in place to deal with issues of traffic and potential fires. “We will be insisting they hire off duty police officers to direct traffic in an orderly conduct in and out of the community. There has to be a clean-up factor and they have to meet with the Six Nations Fire department.”
The Johnson spokesperson said there is no reason to be concerned “it isn’t happening.”