Foxgate Developments seeking another injunction to remove people from housing site dubbed 1492 Land Back Lane

By Victoria Gray

Writer

Six Nations land defender Skyler Williams will once again defend himself and 1492 Land Back Lane in court.

On March 22 Foxgate Developments will start the process of bringing forward another injunction for the 25 acre parcel in Caledonia, that is currently held by Six Nations members, in court.

Skyler Williams, the former spokesperson for the Lank Back movement is named in the injunction and he says he’s being sued for millions of dollars.

“I guess I expected something from them again, I take this as an open threat to people who made the stand to make sure those lands stayed in Haudenosaunee hands. It is high time that we find another path forward here that sees us not get shot at, not tasered, not dragged from our lands; this process we are in right now, is it really a thing,” Williams said.

He said there are a “few” different complaints against him amounting to upwards of $5 million in damages he could owe to Foxgate.

1492 Land Back Lane put out a press release blaming the provincial and Federal governments for failing to show leadership in the more than 600 days 1492 Land Back Lane was reclaimed.

“Instead of peaceful resolutions, we are again seeing another attempt to use the courts to legitimize the theft of our homes,” a statement said.

Williams says he’s trying not to worry about the proceedings, but he wants Foxgate and the governments to find a better way toward resolution.

“I am disgusted at how elected officials have dragged their feet, refusing to live up to their obligations under the treaties between our nations and their roles within their government. The peaceful path forward does not include courts and cops,” he said.

The previous injunction ordering the land defenders to permanently leave the site of the proposed housing development was cancelled in December 2021 after Ontario’s Court of Appeal found a judge acted unfairly towards Williams during court proceedings.

Superior Court judge, Justice John Harper, who heard the October 2020 motion, erred when he denied Williams’ rights to procedural fairness and the opportunity to be heard unless he followed the injunction order and left the site.

The appeal judge, Justice Lorne Sossin said Harper did not adequately inform Williams of the exact details of the proceedings against him and did not give him an opportunity to get a lawyer and so, was self-represented, despite serious consequences.

Sossin also agreed that Williams was not afforded his right to raise issues about Indigenous legal claims and the rule of law.

Sossin’s decision also cancelled what he called “problematic” costs of more than $168,000 that Williams was ordered to pay to Foxgate and Haldimand County.

Foxgate instead had to pay Williams $20,000 for costs incurred.

“The previous injunction, which was thrown out by the appeals court, led to the criminilization of 50 people, over 30 who have had their charges withdrawn by the Crown,” the 1492 Land Back Lane statement said. “It resulted in police shooting land defenders in the back with rubber bullets and tasers. Given the history of violence unleashed on our community by the use of injunctions, we are taking this as a very serious threat on our safety.”
Foxgate Developments is a joint venture between Ballantry Homes and Losani Homes. There were plans to build 218 detached homes and townhouses on the site in Caledonia previously called Mackenzie Meadows, which was farmland before the proposed development.

An “accomdation agreement” with the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) was signed by then elected chief Ava Hill.

It tied the SNEC to:

  • “ publicly support the Development as it proceeds including expressions and statements of ongoing support and commitment to the Development (as may reasonably be requested from the Owner from time to time);
  • “ not interfere with or disrupt the Development, whether by protest, blockade or any other manner of interference; and
  • “ use all reasonable efforts to work with the Owner to support a cessation of any action or conduct by any member of any First Nations that is intended or reasonably likely to delay, frustrate or interfere with the Development. If the Owner must seek legal remedies to deal with such action or conduct, or respond to any legal actions which may be brought by any other third party, SNEC shall support the Owner and shall provide confirmation of such support in such form as may be reasonably requested or required by the Owner, provided that SNEC is reimbursed by the Owner for the legal expenses that SNEC incurs in connection with the provision of SNEC’s support.”

In return, Foxgate agreed to give SNEC $200,000, of which $194,000 would be put in a land banking account established by SNEC. Foxgate also agreed to offer employment opportunities to community members, pay to advertise job postings, conduct “at least one” job fair in the community, and encourage its contractors to do the same.

Prior to becoming the current elected chief, Mark Hill seconded the motion to support Foxgate’s proposed development on McKenzie Meadows as long as the developer gave Six Nations 10 acres elsewhere, according to a 2018 council memorandum.SNEC also supported another company’s – Wildwood Developments – plan to build on another 128-acre parcel east of McKenzie Rd., as long as Six Nations received another 10 acres elsewhere. SNEC received in total $352,000 and 42.3 acres for the two developments along McKenzie Rd., according to a SNEC July 24 press release

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) did not sign on to any agreement with the developers.

The Six Nations land defence began in July of 2020 and the Ontario Provincial Police spent more than $16 million to contain the movement unsuccessfully.

There are now many tiny homes on the site and Haudenosaunee living there.

“Injunctions are disproportionately used to remove First Nations people from their lands, allowing century old injustices to replicate themselves. Six Nations people and their allies are fighting that injustice on the ground, and we will do the same in the courtroom,” at statement from Aliah El-houni and Sima Atri, Williams’ lawyers said.

Foxgate did not return requests for comment.

Add Your Voice

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Contribute your voice on our contribute page.