Court documents show Six Nations elected council agreed to 'publicly support' development

Court documents show the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council agreed to publicly support a contentious housing development and to help put an end to any protests that might slow it down.

Council says it was 'accommodated' for the site with 42.3 acres and $325,000

Demonstrators have occupied the McKenzie Meadows development in Caledonia for more than three weeks, renaming it "1492 Land Back Lane." (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Court documents show the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council agreed to publicly support a contentious housing development and to help put an end to any protests that might slow it down.

But that hasn't stopped demonstrators from occupying McKenzie Meadows for more than three weeks, halting construction and renaming the site "1492 Land Back Lane."

The definitive agreement, filed in Ontario Superior Court as an exhibit, outlines three "Development Support Covenants," as first reported by APTN National News.

A copy of the document, obtained by CBC News, shows the elected chief and council agreed to the following:

  • 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);
  • To not interfere with or disrupt the development, whether by protest, blockade or any other manner of interference; and
  • To use all reasonable efforts to work with the owner to support a cessation of any action conducted by any member of any First Nations that is intended or is 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 action which may be brought by any 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.

The document was signed by former elected chief Ava Hill. The date June 18, 2019 appears hand-written beside her signature.

In return, the developers — Ballantry and Losani Homes — agreed to transfer $200,000 to the elected council. The documents state $196,000 of that money would be placed in a land banking account.

The builders also agreed to work with the council to "present employment, contract and apprenticeship opportunities, where practicable, to qualified members of Six nations" in connection with the construction.

Part of the agreement stipulates the developers would pay to advertise jobs in Six Nations newspapers and work with the council to conduct "at least one job fair" on the reserve.

However, if the elected council withdrew its support for the project at any point and didn't support it again, the agreement says it would have to pay $196,000 back to the developers.

A July 24 statement from council said Six Nations had been "accommodated" in two ways for the development, first in 2016 with 42.3 acres and again in 2019 in the form of $325,000, which was put into a land banking account.

About 10 tents dotted the site on August 12, along with the frame of a structure demonstrators have said will be used as a kitchen. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Elected Chief Mark Hill did not respond to an interview request Wednesday, but in a video statement about the situation Monday evening he seemed to be trying to balance holding up council's side of the agreement with a message of unity.

"I encourage all sides and each and every person involved to carefully consider the actions they take and the impact those actions will have on this situation," he said.

"We do not support any actions that would lead to violence and destruction."

His message also acknowledged the demonstrators' position and urged people to understand why the site matters.

"I ... encourage everyone in Ontario and across Canada to listen to the concerns of the land defenders and to learn why the area of land under dispute holds so much cultural and emotional significance for many people in our community," he said.

For their part, demonstrators say the elected council only represents a fraction of the more than 27,000 people who live on Six Nations and that not enough consultation was done before the development was given the green light.

It was relatively quiet at the camp Wednesday.

Stacks of tires, cement blocks and what appears to be an overturned trailer form a barricade on Argyle Street South, heading out of Caledonia. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

A handful of people could be seen standing near the wooden frame of a structure that's been described in social media posts as a future kitchen.

Construction materials blocked the entrances to the site and about 10 tents were dotted around it.

Banners and messages spray painted on sea shipping containers declared "LAND BACK" in large letters.