The Six Nations of the Grand River are currently in litigation against the Crowns of Canada and Ontario since 1995, to account for the lands promised in the 1784 Haldimand Treaty Lands.
In the Past: The Haldimand Treaty of 1784
The Six Nations of the Grand River are part of the Iroquois Confederacy that dates back hundreds of years. They lived by hunting, fishing and trading in extensive tracts of land throughout parts of Canada and the United States. During the American War of Independence, members of the Six Nations sided with the British Crown and fought as Allies alongside Great Britain. Due to their alliance with the British and the loss of their lands in the United States, Sir Frederick Haldimand, Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Provinces of Quebec and Territories, issued the Haldimand Treaty to Six Nations. The Haldimand Treaty unequivocally promised that a tract of land six miles deep on each side of the Grand River from the rivers mouth to its source was to be enjoyed by Six Nations and their posterity forever.
Today: Six Nations of the Grand River
The Haldimand Treaty Lands consisted of approximately 950,000 acres, or 385,000 hectares. Since 1784, more that 900,000 acres of land have been lost.
Today, Six Nations of the Grand River lands comprise of less than 5% of what was originally granted.
Since 1974, Six Nations of the Grand River have researched of the loss of 95% of the land granted by the Haldimand Treaty. This archival research involves investigating the breaches of the Crown’s Fiduciary Obligation to manage Six Nations’ lands and resources in the best interest of Six Nations.
Since 1980, there have been 29 land claims filed with the Office of Native Claims under their Specific Claims Policy, with one settlement reached. This by no means is a complete list of lands rights issues for Six Nations; there are many other potential claims that required additional research.
Moving Forward: Outstanding Lawful Obligations
Since 1995, Six Nations of the Grand River are in litigation with the Crowns Canada and Ontario to account for the Crown’s handling of Six Nations property, both before and after Confederation, and are seeking a comprehensive general account for all money, real property or other assets belong to the Six Nations of the Grand River.
Land claims can be pursued either through the courts or through the Specific Claims Tribunal, a joint arbitration initiative between the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations.
Each path offers pros and cons.
- Potentially much larger settlements
- Can take into account cultural and spiritual losses
- Can award punitive damages and non-financial compensation
- Can take years, even decades
- Very few land claims have been successfully resolved through the courts or negotiation
- Fast-tracked settlement
- Decisions are final, with limited avenues for appeal (can also be a con)
- Settlements limited to $150 million
- Cannot make punitive damages or consider cultural or spiritual aspects
- SNGA would have to withdraw all claims filed before 2008 and resubmit them with new evidence
Lands & Resources
The Six Nations Wildlife Management Office manages SNGR’s environmental stewardship and wildlife policy. We work through communication, coordination and cooperation with a wide range of other environmental management agencies and research institutions. We also carry out SNGR’s responsibilities under the Grand River Notification Agreement with surrounding communities.wildlife trail mapping, traditional knowledge studies, and encouraging the protection of endangered species;
The guiding principles of SNGR’s environmental stewardship, as detailed in the 2019 Community Plan, include
- Improving water quality, soil health, tree canopy and biodiversity indicators.
- Increasing forested area of the territory.
- Ensuring that the community can safely eat food and use medicines from forests and rivers
- Ensuring that plant and wildlife species are returned or strengthened in the forests and rivers
- The operational goals of the Wildlife Management Office include:
- To provide effective communication within the Grand River Watershed, Haldimand Tract and Traditional Territory, creating an atmosphere of trust among Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures;
- To offer educational opportunities and experiences for our schools and our neighbours
- To assist in responding to over 700 permits per year through the Grand River Notification Agreement.
- To review various environmental assessments, impact statements, official plans, archaeological reports and the federal and provincial environmental registries.
- To participate in project affecting the Grand River Watershed or the community such as wetland studies, wildlife trail mapping, traditional knowledge studies, and encouraging the protection of endangered species;
- To provide the non-Indigenous population with information and education on the many aspects of Haudenosaunee environmental concepts and to seek common ground.
- To actively participate in and encourage co-operative management regimes within the Grand River Watershed.