Hamilton Centre MP stands up for Six Nations land defenders

·2 min read

New Democrat MP Matthew Green is a vocal supporter of the Six Nations land reclamation project underway in Caledonia. Now the Hamilton Centre representative is backing that support with cash.

On Tuesday, Green pledged $1,492 to the 1492 Land Back Lane legal fund and encouraged others to donate to land defenders facing punitive court injunctions and ongoing arrests after occupying the McKenzie Meadows construction site.

“There is, inherently, a significant imbalance in our justice system that heavily favours private corporations and our colonial government,” Green said.

“What I’m looking for in calling on people to support the legal defence fund is to give (land defenders) some kind of equality and balance the scales of justice in the legal proceedings.”

Green said successive Conservative and Liberal governments have ignored expert recommendations about “how to prevent further escalations on this particular land claim,” adding that peaceful negotiations, rather than police action, are needed.

By making permanent the injunction ordering the Six Nations group off the land, Green said Superior Court Justice R. John Harper “took it upon himself” to settle a land claim that has been before the courts for 25 years and counting.

“I believe that is wholly inappropriate as an approach,” Green said.

1492 Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams said the land defenders appreciate Green’s words and actions on their behalf.

“It’s certainly a push in the right direction,” Williams said. “Wishing that (federal ministers) Carolyn Bennett and Marc Miller’s offices will kind of take off in that same direction and stop dragging their feet.”

The 1492 Land Back Lane legal fund has raised nearly $270,000 of its $500,000 goal. Williams said the money will be used to cover the legal fees of those who stand charged with breaching the court order by being on the McKenzie Meadows site, which the land defenders say is unceded Haudenosaunee territory.

Green has visited the site, which in itself is a breach of the injunction, but he said police have not contacted him to arrange for his arrest.

“I was not there to occupy the land,” Green said.

“I was exercising my duty as a member of Parliament to hear directly from people and better understand what their claims were.”

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator