Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A letter from six nation chief

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Chief Mark Hill Six Nations of the Grand River

Dear Minister Hajdu,

Sge:no! Sago! It was lovely to see in you in person in Ottawa the other evening and to get to know you over dinner. I very much enjoyed our conversation.

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On behalf of Six Nations of the Grand River, I would like to congratulate you once again on both your re-election and your new appointment as Minister of Indigenous Services. I’m confident this new appointment is a testament to your commitment to reconciliation and your support for Indigenous communities and our sovereign self-determination.

The Prime Minister wrote to me the other day in response to Six Nations priorities we had recently brought to his attention. As I am sure you’re well aware, Six Nations of the Grand River is pursuing progress on a variety of challenges simultaneously. Making true progress in our relationship with federal ministers of the Crown will require a foundation of trust. While our work is a manifestation of sovereignty and an exercise of our self-governance, your support for our efforts will be most helpful given the role of Indigenous Services Canada.

One of the most important priorities is ending the continued remittance to the federal government of the unjust excise tax that is wrongfully applied to Six Nations members when engaging in a common enterprise as Six Nations members on Six Nations territory. Those funds belong to our community, and for the Canadian government to tax our businesses on our territory only to trickle those revenues back to us for our urgent needs like hooking up water lines for greater access to clean drinking water is wrong. The Crown must end the discrimination against our people found in its refusal to recognize that Six Nations members working corporately together do not thereby cease to be Six Nations. With these funds remaining in our community, Six Nations will be much more equipped to meet our people’s needs.


We are also concerned to see our historic land claims case resolved. It has been in the court system since 1995 and the Crown has already admitted that it “will result in a significant damage award.” It is well past time for the Crown to provide restitution to Six Nations for the lands wrongfully transferred and the proceeds in trust misappropriated. There are steps the federal government could take to begin preparing for a general reparation of this situation, and there is no point in delaying the inevitable.

In particular as the former Minister of Health, we also seek your support for our request of Health Canada to recognize and respect the Six Nations Cannabis Commission and the Six Nations of the Grand River Cannabis Control Law as expressions of our right to self-determination. Brought about by our Elected Council over the past couple of years, the Commission and the Cannabis Control Law were put in place to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of our people, and they were explicitly designed to harmonize with the best practices and high regulatory standards of neighboring authorities such as Health Canada. Finally, your government was also recently re-elected on a platform of preserving, promoting, and revitalizing Indigenous languages “with long-term, predictable, and sufficient funding.” One of the primary ways our community seeks to revitalize our own languages is through the work of dedicated community institutions like Kawenni:io / Gaweni:yo Elementary and Secondary School, which provides immersion language education to our children in Mohawk and Cayuga. Kawennio School provides a high quality education but is in desperate need of adequate funding to build a suitable school building. To meet our people’s needs, to promote continued high educational standards, and to reverse the loss of our own languages, an investment in our future is needed in the form of full funding support. This would go a long way towards fulfilling this part of your electoral commitments.

We would like to request a conversation with you in the near future to discuss all these matters. With your full support in your new capacity as Minister for Indigenous Services, we can make the most of the present moment for the benefit of all the people of Six Nations of the Grand River.

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