Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lynda Powless: Understanding Caledonia

There isn't a day that goes by that people in our community aren't reminded that they live under rules that Canadians themselves aren't subjected to.


The band chief and councillors are "elected" by less than four per cent of the community, and they don't answer to their meagre electorate, they answer to the Minister of Indian Affairs.

Is it any wonder the people still look to their own Confederacy council for leadership? It's a unique system, designed to give voice and power to its people. It's made of chiefs and clanmothers that represent families -- families whose voices are reflected back to that council through those same clanmothers and chiefs.

And it belongs to us.

It is a difficult system for Canadians to understand. Canadians, in general are used to electing a politician, packing him off and hoping he carries their wishes to Ottawa.

Six Nations people are not only used to being heard, they expect to be. That kind of democracy is directly linked to our history and the Confederacy. Every voice is heard. For those who don't understand its protocol and customs, it can appear chaotic.

The Canadian media hears from spokespeople that decisions will be made by the people, and in their 30-second sound-bite mind, it translates into political rhetoric, when, in fact, the decisions being made do have to go to a meeting of the people, who take those voices to Confederacy chiefs and clanmothers. Discussions are held to come to a decision everyone can agree to.

It's a long, tedious process, but when it's over, everyone walks away with a decision they can all agree to. It creates a strength of spirit, not a dimming of identity.


It's a difficult concept for Canadians to grasp. Six Nations history has never been discussed in the schools, and their contributions to the creation of Canada is forgotten.

Canadians don't understand why Six Nations people consider themselves Haudenosaunee, not Canadians. Canadians don't know that it was Six Nations funds that were taken by government officials and helped create the Upper Canada Law Society, or funded the first government structures of what was then Upper Canada.

Nor do they know that McGill University was built with Six Nations money. And it was Six Nations money that was used to build the infrastructure of a new Canada. It was the foresight of Six Nations leadership that leased Six Nations lands to create that cash flow for the people of Six Nations -- lands that were never surrendered. It was that same cash flow that Canada, in a position of trust, used to create a country.

And it was the question of what happened to Six Nations lands and trust funds valued at more than $800 billion that caused Six Nations to launch a lawsuit against Canada in 1995.

So it is understandable that the misconception exists today that the lands along the Grand were given up simply because successive Canadian governments have failed to live up to their obligations to Six Nations people and created Canadian legislation to legally stop Six Nations from objecting to anything they did.

This is the atmosphere that created the Caledonia Reclamation.

Knowing that there is so little land left, and watching our lands being slowly eaten away and the resources within them used to enrich those who are settling illegally upon those lands, it wasn't any surprise the Caledonia Reclamation happened.

The only surprise to Six Nations was that it took so long.


Related link:

Ecological footprint - Federation of Canadian Municipalities


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home