TORONTO - The Six Nations Confederacy is warning of "grave consequences" this summer if the Ontario government doesn't deal directly with its Chiefs council over the future of the former Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia.
The Liberal government bought the disputed land in 2006 for $16 million to try to end an occupation of the planned housing development by a small group of First Nations protesters. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which represents the Six Nations, says the province gave it title to the land but the province disputes that claim.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid met in private Wednesday with Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill and Haldimand county Mayor Ken Hewitt to talk about restricting access to the site.
Zimmer described Wednesday's meeting as positive, and while he wouldn't offer details, he said they had agreed to meet again next week with Hill and Hewitt.
But the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs council, which declined an invitation to the meeting, issued a statement Thursday saying it is "deeply concerned for grave consequences that could erupt over the ensuing summer months" if the government doesn't return to direct talks without "third parties."
The statement said the provincial government knows the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that band councils do not have the ability in Canadian law to represent the collective rights of First Nations people in title and land rights cases.
"The land is now under the sole jurisdiction of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council," said the statement issued by the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy of Grand River Country.
"The council is always open to discussions in relation to Haudenosaunee uses of the land, and would encourage the province of Ontario to return to the communications protocol process that was established in good faith, with now Premier (Kathleen) Wynne, to advance those discussions."
Wynne once held responsibility for aboriginal affairs when she served in Dalton McGuinty's cabinet.
The confederacy is made up of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and Tuscaroras.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was given title to land purchased by the Ontario government in Caledonia, but it did not include that this is in fact a claim by the confederacy and that the province disputes it.
© Coast Reporter