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Elected chief of Six Nations supportive of development moratorium within Haldimand Tract

An Indigenous Mohawk called Wack camps out at a construction site at the centre of an Indigenous land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., on Thursday, October 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The elected chief of Six Nations of the Grand River is showing support for the traditional government’s call to have a moratorium on any further development in the Haldimand Tract.

During a virtual press conference on Monday, Chief Mark Hill said the people of Six Nations want the elected council to work with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) to hold Ontario and Canada accountable for unresolved land claims.

“Our people have said this time and time, over again, that they would like to see our two bodies work together,” said Hill.

“What that looks like is the big question. And I think that’s where we have to continue our important discussions with the Confederacy chiefs and clan mothers so that we could, again, address what our people are saying.”

The statement on working with the HCCC comes a week after the hereditary chiefs issued the call for a moratorium in the Haldimand Tract, saying no building should be taking place in the 10 kilometres on either side of the Grand River without the consent of the people of Six Nations and discussions about land development with the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.

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Read more: Traditional government of Six Nations calls for moratorium on development of Haldimand Tract

Asked by reporters on Monday whether the elected council is supportive of the moratorium, Hill said it wouldn’t be “responsible” to keep building on disputed land while land claims remain unresolved in the court system.

“We reiterate and acknowledge their call for the moratorium. We also need to keep in mind that we have a major land claims case coming before the courts in 2022 and it would not be responsible to allow continued development in an uncertain legal environment.”

Hill added that he’s “optimistic” about the elected council’s ongoing conversations with the HCCC.

The HCCC raised the moratorium on the 15-year anniversary of a police raid on a demonstration at the former Douglas Creek Estates development in Caledonia, also marking nine months since an occupation began at a residential development on McKenzie Road that’s been renamed ‘1492 Land Back Lane’ by Six Nations land defenders.

Read more: Land Back Lane spokesperson ordered to foot legal bills for Caledonia land dispute

While the HCCC has sided with the land defenders, saying the land purchased by Foxgate Developments for the 218-home development is on unceded Haudenosaunee territory, the elected council has said they were “accommodated” for the McKenzie Meadows development with 42.3 acres of land and $352,000 for future land purchases.

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For its part, the federal government has said it needs to work with both the elected council and the HCCC in order to address land claims.

“Our government is committed to working collaboratively to address Six Nations’ historical claims and land rights issues in a way that respects the unique history and circumstances of Six Nations,” said Mélanie Mellon, a senior communications advisor for Indigenous Services Canada, in an email to Global News last week.

“We recognize that any lasting approach to address the historical claims and advance reconciliation will require a collaborative effort from the Six Nations Elected Council, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, Canada and Ontario.”

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