Posted By VINCENT BALL AND MICHAEL-ALLAN MARION, EXPOSITOR STAFF
Updated 3 hours agoA Six Nations group blocked an attempt to begin work Monday on the site of a new housing development at Erie Avenue and Birkett Lane.
Up to 30 members of the Haudenosaunee Men's Fire gathered at the site of a 99-home subdivision at about 6 a. m. and didn't leave until early afternoon.
Their efforts prevented city work crews from beginning work to provide servicing to the site, which is one of five designated no-go zones in bylaws passed by the city and an injunction obtained in Ontario Superior Court prohibiting activities that stop construction work.
"We're required to be here. It's our duty to be here, " said native spokesman Dahwehido:geh, also known as Phillip W. Skye.
"This land is part of the Eagle's Nest Tract. It has never been surrendered, ceded or given up and it's our duty to protect it.
"We're here to make sure that no shovel is put into the ground."
As he spoke, Skye had a replica of the Two Row Wampum draped over his arm.
He said development of the site would damage the area's eco-system and he encouraged city officials to move away from developing vacant land.
Skye said Men's Fire members were at the site as ambassadors to peacefully and respectfully present their view.
They met with police to discuss safety during the blockade, Skye said.
The Men's Fire received a boost from a visit by Six Nations Chief Coun. Bill Montour.
"It looks like it's on a flood plain," Montour said of the housing development. "What are they trying to do here, build another New Orleans?" The proposed development is another example of how good farmland is being ruined and replaced by concrete, he said.
Six Nations people have an obligation to protect the land and the environment.
"Concrete doesn't allow you to grow good crops and, on behalf of most of us on the elected council, we're behind you on this one," Montour said.
City Mayor Mike Hancock declined to comment, citing the fact the bylaws and the injunction.
"It's a matter for the police," he said. Coun. John Bradford, who represents the area of contention, said he talked with various residents.
He said some in the area are supporting the activists, mainly because they either oppose the development or are in sympathy with them.
"These people perhaps naively don't understand that they are hurting the economic development of Brantford," he said.
"Even though they think they're doing a good service in their backyard, they're not. One group of neighbours is working against another group."