Last Friday, Brantford mayor Chris Friel put forward a new proposal to create a new “Six Nations Consultation Committee” – something that, in Friel’s words, would be a “mechanism for the City of Brantford as a municipality to speak to the Six Nations as a First Nations community.”
The proposed committee would include the mayor and Chief of the Six Nations, along with three members from the Six Nations and city council each, as well as a provincial representative.
The goal of the committee would be to discuss land use issues and make recommendations to the Six Nations and City of Brantford; they would have no decision-making power themselves. Among the proposed topics of conversation were uses for various pieces of land including the city’s waterfront, the former “Fuller” property, the south side of Colborne Street and the Greenwich-Mohawk Brownfield site.
Brantford residents and Six Nations members were both taken aback by the proposal, which was initially supposed to be signed on Monday, just three days after it was announced. Over the weekend, discussions were held and the signing was pushed back to allow for additional debate over the matter.
Unfortunately for the proposal, relations between the involved groups have already gotten off to a shaky start: a City of Brantford consultation meeting planned for Saturday was cancelled after the Six Nations Onkwehón:we Women’s Council barred Mayor Friel and his councilors and staff from entering the meeting.
“A lot of the opposition had more to do with the elected council than the agreement itself,” said Friel. He said that he and his staff came to the meeting “in good faith to talk and consult,” and he feels that petty differences got in the way of what could be the start of revitalized relations between the parties involved.
The proposal has been shelved indefinitely at this point. While the mayor maintains that communication of this nature is necessary, it may be some time before Brantford and the Six Nations can come together cooperatively over the disputed land around Brantford.