Saturday, August 19, 2006

Six Nations women lay claim to windmills

This from today’s Hamilton Spectator:

Six Nations women lay claim to windmills
by John Burman
The Hamilton Spectator
(Aug 19, 2006)

Two Six Nations women title holders have laid claim to a $27-million green power wind farm project near Shelburne.  

Kahentinetha Horn, who lives at the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal and another woman from the Akwesasne reserve near Cornwall, have filed what they say is a notice of seizure on behalf of the greater Six Nations population which includes residents of Six Nations of the Grand Reserve near Caledonia.

Traditionally, title to Mohawk land is vested through the women as caretakers of the land for future generations.

The two have also laid claim to an Etobicoke Board of Education outdoor site in Nottawasaga Township as well as the Highway 407 toll expressway at different times recently. None of these sites has been occupied.

Janie Jamieson, spokesperson for the Six Nations Confederacy members occupying the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision property in Caledonia since February, said yesterday the wind farm claim does not originate with local Six Nations but is done on their behalf as part of the North American Six Nations population.

Speaking for herself, Jamieson said she supports the windmill seizure because, as a native mother, she does not wish to see her children have to man barricades and protest to claim what is theirs.

In her seizure announcement, Horn says the private, 45-turbine project by Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., of Calgary, located in Melancthon Township and its planned 88-unit expansion is on native land and therefore the turbines are native property.

The second stage of the project has been undergoing environmental assessment. However the province says that has been put on hold pending the outcome of the land claim.

That's news to Canadian Hydro. CEO John Keating says neither the provincial or federal government has told the company there is a native claim on the land they lease from farmers in the area.

Keating says that because the company leases the land, the turbines would not belong to Six Nations anyway. He said the company has only been told the environmental assessment hearing was pushed up a level because there were 15 letters of concern filed with the Ministry of Environment about the second phase of the project.

None of those were from native groups, he said, adding Canadian Hydro notified all the native groups the federal government had told them to and none objected. He said Six Nations was not on that list.

A spokesman for the Department of Indian Affairs has said no formal claim has been filed on the land.

Keating said it is the company's understanding that the provincial Ministry of Environment is looking for a meeting with Six Nations and he expects the firm will be invited.

"We told everyone we were told to notify about the project about it," he said.

Horn also says Six Nations can take credit for stalling the next phase of the wind farm which was to proceed next year.

Horn, who teaches history at Concordia University in Montreal and is a passionate and prolific contributor to the Mohawk Nation News, says the site is on the Haldimand tract, a strip of land six miles either side of the Grand River from its source to Lake Erie which was granted to the Six Nations people "forever" in 1784 for their service as Allies of the British Crown during The American Revolution.

She says a Mohawk resident of the township called the title holders in January to tell them the windmills are on native land and an objection was filed to an "illegal" incursion," adding that Canada has allowed native land and resources to be stolen through illegal land transfers and fraud, she said.

Now, she said, Canada is "stealing another of our resources, the wind." She said the company invited native representatives to a meeting but the title holders wanted all financial information about the company. It is not known if the meeting took place.

"We say, 'Thanks for the windmills. Now we can sit down and talk about what we're going to give you out of it, if we want to...The windmills are on our property. It's ours. You'll just have to keep your hands off them and talk to us about it."

With files fromSpectator wire services    

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