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Canada Using Bad Faith Negotiations and Jail Against Ongwehonhwe’

August 10, 2009

April 22, 2009 (Ohsweken, Haudenosaunee Six Nations Territory): We Ongwehonhwe’ have been charged by Canada for allegedly committing criminal acts while peacefully defending our land. We make this statement to strongly denounce Canada for its present day approach to Ongwehonhwe’ nations. The Governments of Canada and Ontario are engaging us in bad faith negotiations that produce no meaningful results and pressing criminal charges against those who take peaceful action to protect our rights and our land.

We are Haudenosaunee and our Great Law of Peace, the Kaianeraserakowa, requires us to protect the land for future generations and to do so peacefully. The actions that we have taken are out of rational desperation to defend the survival of our people.

We make this statement in solemn recognition of the on-going criminalization of our men and women who have been involved in defending our rights. While Canada and Ontario have not been serious about a negotiated solution with the Haudenosaunee, it is clear that they are serious about putting our people in jail. Many of our people have suffered jail terms, bail and probation conditions that cause our people to violate our own law and police abuses. While our resolve is unshaken, we acknowledge the suffering experienced by our children, our family and our communities as a direct result of criminal charges laid against our people.

The Guswhenta, the Two Row Wampum, is a treaty that requires each of our nations to respect our separateness: “Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other.” The present approach by Canada of engaging in bad faith negotiations and pressing criminal charges when we take action to preserve our rights is unacceptable. We propose the following two solutions:

We ask that Canada and Ontario immediately engage with the Haudenosaunee to develop a Guswhenta Protocol for establishing a dialogue about Canada’s concerns with Haudenosaunee persons alleged to have engaged in unacceptable or “criminal” conduct, making it a priority to address those situations involving efforts by Haudenosaunee people to preserve their rights; and

We also ask that Crown Attorneys who are involved in the prosecution of people involved in reclamation activity make every effort possible to implement the spirit of the Guswhenta.

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