Creative thinking is required
GOOD NEIGHBOURS COALITION
Posted June 28 2008
First, let me applaud the efforts of those developers in Brantford who have stepped forward to find remedy to the current land dilemma facing all those who call the Haldimand Tract home. They have drafted and presented a plan that would permit a level of development and acknowledge that there are serious questions about "clear ownership" that need to be addressed immediately. Apparently they, as we, don't want to wait another 160 years for clarity in proceeding.
Their efforts are not without risk, but like all developers, risk is a part of their genre. However, nothing like a pervasive land claim could ever have been included in their risk assessment.
It is important that we look elsewhere, to developments in the far north and west, to look at revenue and resource-sharing agreements that have been successfully negotiated in oil industry efforts and, more recently, diamond mines. Many communities now situated on reserves near these development areas are beneficiaries of royalties, both in the form of actual cash payments, but also improved access to services and sustainable development opportunities which those communities deem appropriate.
Needless to say, the way out of the current land situation requires creative and innovative thinking and planning -- the status quo no longer applies. Old laws are simply that -- old laws.
By their nature, governments are conservative; restricting change and challenging innovation, it is their job and they are elected to maintain a sort of order and balance, albeit there are times when there seems to be precious little logic in decisions made by those who purport to represent "the people."
A law passed in the 1840s, such as the land registry system in Ontario may have suited a particular purpose then, but has come under severe and serious scrutiny in 2008 -- rightfully so, I think, as clearly it was meant to appropriate lands not legally transacted and registered and to hide dubious transactions by the very officials appointed to enforce the law and subsequently pass on the consequences of such actions to their progeny.
While those of the various levels of legislatures debate and argue about minute details, usually fairly inconsequential to those of us who must labour under them, the reality is that we must continue to live together, regardless of the law.
It is very important, I think, for the people of Brantford and all those who live and prosper from the bounty which is the Haldimand Tract that we must share that bounty equitably with the rightful owners and those who have taken measured risk to develop our places to grow. The Six Nations, Haudenosaunee took many risks in ensuring that we would be here today. Each generation stepped forward and were counted in defence of Canada, its development and prosperity -- always alongside our allies.
Perhaps we have a really great opportunity to initiate a renewed alliance -- one which recognizes a unique standing in Canadian history but also steers us into the future that we can all respect and count on. Perhaps we could write/right a Haudenosaunee-Canada law predicated on respect, trust and friendship for our future dealings.
Maybe we can't change old, archaic laws, but there is nothing that says we can't create new ones.
Keith Jamieson Ohsweken