‘The Strength of a Woman’: Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller


UPDATE – CWUC blog, July 17/09: Six Nations councillor speaks out against lawlessness


A remarkable letter by Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller to the editor of the Brantford Expositor echoes the very message that CANACE founders have been trying to share with the media, the public, the police,  government officials and the people of Six Nations for nearly three years:

The individuals and ad hoc groups who have committed crimes against the people of Haldimand and Brantford do NOT speak for the people of Six Nations, and do NOT have the support of the people of Six Nations.

As for who represents Six Nations let me put it this way: The Mohawk Workers, Women of the Mohawk Nation, the Men’s Fire or individuals like Steven “Boots” Powless or Ruby and Floyd Montour were not elected, appointed or authorized by the people of Six Nations to be their representatives or to speak on their behalf. Nor is the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) supported by the elected council or the community at large. However, it was authorized by the Confederacy council.

Brantford Expositor, letter to editor, Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller, July 14/09: Only elected council can speak for Six Nations  PDF

Furthermore, she chastises the media for empowering them by putting them on the front page of the evening news:

Fact of the matter is, it’s the media who give recognition and empowers these people by putting them on the front page of the newspapers and headliners of the evening news. Frankly speaking, I believe the protests are more about the media attention than about the land.

 The people of Six Nations are “fed up,” so don’t fear another Caledonia

We’ve all noticed of late the absence of protests on development sites. I believe the protests have stopped for two reasons: The people don’t want to be arrested and they know they don’t have the support of the Six Nations community anymore.

Truth is today the majority of Six Nations people who I’ve spoken with are fed up with the protests, fed up with these groups of people and individuals claiming to speak for them and fed up with the smoke shops on Highway 6. So people who fear another Caledonia can put their fears to rest.

Six Nations Elected Council authorized the DCE barricades & occupation

What is very interesting about Ms. Miller’s letter is that she explains that the elected band council (including her) voted to authorize the Condederacy council to handle the DCE occupation:

As for the land negotiations, most people don’t know this but on Easter Sunday in 2006 in a meeting with the elected council, the Confederacy council, and the federal and provincial governments, seven elected councillors including myself signed a letter officially mandating the Confederacy council to handle the Douglas Creek barricades and land reclamation.

Later, the elected council expanded the mandate to include the Plank Road claims. That’s why the elected council has to date played a minimal role in the land talks.

In condemning the various groups such as the HDI which was authorized by the Confederacy, it seems as though Councillor Miller is stating what has become obvious to all – that the elected council made a dreadful mistake in allowing the Confederacy to create the conditions and groups that have caused so much misery in Haldimand County for both native and non-native people.

Councillor Miller’s frank admissions are very refreshing. If her opinions regarding the lack of support for past lawlessness is correct (and I believe she is), we have, perhaps, turned a very important corner.

Councillor Miller echoes words of CANACE

False accusations by supporters of illegitimate, criminal groups on Six Nations

Those of us who have stood up to oppose the lawlessness caused by the groups mentioned by Councillor Miller have been viciously smeared with false accusations of being racists, white supremacists, and KKK as we were during the recent CUPE 3903 protest in Cayuga – where speakers professed to speak for the people of Six Nations even though they had aligned themselves with the HMF and the Warriors, the very groups who have used violence, extortion, vandalism, and intimidation against the innocent neighbours of Six Nations. 

Why, indeed, are CUPE & Co. pretending to speak for Six Nations as they work with the Men’s Fire who are responsible for threatening the same Court that said they were committing acts of Extortion and Intimidation against Haldimand residents? Why isn’t Julian Fantino insulting the CUPE ‘outsider/interlopers’ for helping the groups Councillor Miller say don’t speak for Six Nations people? Hmmm.

The Tekawennake News and its reporter Jim Windle were particularly disgusting in their deliberate attempt to paint us as white supremacists despite all evidence to the contrary.

When we were finished our ‘Reconciliation: the CANACE Path‘ presentation to Brantford Council on Sept 29/08 a member of the Men’s Fire actually insulted us and our message about bringing about true healing and reconciliation through truth & justice by giving us a Nazi salute and yelling, ‘Heil Hitler!’ 

Despite the sleazy attacks on our character and motivations by those who have supported the lawlessness around Six Nations we have consistently spoken out for both native and non-native victims, and tried to reach out to people of good will on Six Nations.

CANACE speeches at ‘Remember Us’ March, Oct 08/07

On October 08, 2007 I gave a fairly lengthy speech at our ‘Remember Us’ March, just prior to the provincial election, shortly after Sam Gualtieri was nearly murdered by native protesters. Instead of talking about him, however, my speech was entitled, Natives are victims of Two Tier Justice.’ Gary McHale’s speech was ‘Media fails Residential School victims & Caledonia.’  No media outlet outside Caledonia, including the Turtle Island News and the Tekawennake, ever reported them. Here are some quotes from my speech:


I have never believed that the violent extremists who have terrorized Caledonia and other towns in Ontario represented all native people, and in all the months I have been involved in the  struggle to restore the rule of law, I have never met a single person who believed it either.

In fact, during my meeting with the Solicitor General’s office regarding my complaints against OPP Commissioner Fantino, I told Mr. Kwinter’s consultant that I thought the biggest mistake the government and the OPP were making was treating a relatively small group of extremists as though they spoke for all honourable native people.

The story, however, goes much, much deeper than merely recognizing that native people as a group are not criminals or victimizers of innocent residents. For many months now we have tried to share the reality that native people themselves are victims of Two Tier Justice, a fact that has consistently been unreported by non-native media.

After outlining examples of how native people, including their children, have been victimized by racial policing in both Ipperwash and Caledonia I offered this conclusion:

When we become aware of injustice we have a duty to expose and confront it to the best of our ability. Just as we have a duty to speak up for children afraid in their homes on Sixth Line, and for a man almost beaten to death in a home he was building for his daughter, we have a duty to speak up on behalf of the native women who have been raped on DCE, for the woman and child who were threatened by a gunman on DCE and for the native man who was eventually shot.

We did our very best to reach out to Chief David General, to invite him to speak here today against the injustices suffered by both communities. Unfortunately, he refused to do so. I believe that he is a good man of good will, so we hope that one day he will reconsider. In that vein, I implore all of you to share what you have learned here today with those who did not come, and especially, with those who refused to come.

We must demand that the truth be told. There can be no healing or reconciliation or constructive movement to address legitimate grievances of native people, except that based on truth. The truth is that both native and non-native Canadians are being victimized by a small group of extremists due to the OPP’s unwillingness to enforce the law, and it is in both our interests that these criminals be exposed for who and what they are, and vigorously pursued by law enforcement.

I believe that Two Tier Justice is the ultimate expression of racism by the Ontario Provincial Police towards honourable native people. The time has come for all of us – native and non-native – to join together to end this most shameful period in Ontario’s history for the benefit of all Canadians.

I would like to leave you with my last words to an Iroquois man named Terry who inspired a VoiceofCanada article back in January. Our discussion didn’t begin on a positive note, but it ended with us sincerely wishing each other well. These were my last words to Terry:

“My hope is that one day people will come to Caledonia, not to study the destruction caused by those who would do evil to other human beings for their own selfish purposes, but to learn about your culture, about the damage that was done to it, and how Caledonians – native and non-native – came together as one in the dark days to peacefully proclaim Six Nations and the rest of Haldimand County as a sanctuary from that evil.” 

 VoC speech at ‘Remember Us’ March, Oct 08/07: Natives are victims of Two Tier Justice

We even allowed Clyde Powless to speak on Oct 8th; he, of course, would later go on to lead the vicious, unprovoked swarming attack that sent Gary McHale to hospital on Dec 01/07 at an illegal smokeshack on #6 Highway.

Not the first time Councillor Miller has spoken out

Since the Brantford injunction and lawsuit was launched against the HDI, Aaron Detlor, Hazel Hill, Clive Garlow, Mary and Charlie Green and Ruby and Floyd Montour I have received numerous phone calls, people stopping me on the street or approached me at events telling me that council had better not pay the legal fees for the above-mentioned people.

Let’s not fools ourselves. Many people do not support the HDI and do not support what Ruby and Floyd and their followers were doing. Every week it seems more and more people are withdrawing their support.

One of the many reasons I changed my mind was because the above-mentioned people handed in lawyer bills to council expecting those bills to be paid without any consultation or discussion with council.

Turtle Island News, Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller Letter to Editor, Aug 13/08: Legal costs soaring, councillor (see p4)

Councillor Miller acknowledged the role played by Gary McHale’s private prosecutions in driving up potential legal costs:

Gary McHale has filed charges against Ruby and Floyd and others and is waiting the court’s decision as to whether his charges will be allowed to proceed. If so McHale says he plans to file other charges.

Dwayne Maracle was charged at the Fen Ridge site (…) Now I’m told serveral other people might be charged in Brantford last week. We also have people charged from the land reclamation and from the Stirling Street fiasco. It doesn’t take a certified accountant to tell us the legal costs are going to be astronomical.

Why are the politicians and police giving credibility to illegal organizations who do not speak for Six Nations?

It seems very odd to me that Haldimand politicians, Ontario government politicians and the OPP have met with the very groups that are responsible for the violence and crime associated with the illegal occupations in Haldimand, and by so doing, have given them credibility that Ms. Miller says they do not deserve. After all, if the media are to blame, then so are the politicians and OPP. Why did they not insist on dealing with the elected council and insist that it renounce its authorization that allowed the Confederacy to run rampant? Why were the politicians falling over themselves to give legitimacy to criminals? Why were the politicians and OPP not criticizing them instead insulting the peaceful, law abiding non-natives?

Thank you, Councillor Miller!

For nearly three years the founders of CANACE have held out their hands to the good people of Six Nations in friendship, hoping that someone – anyone – would grab hold and join us in calling for an end to the violence and crime and injustices that have claimed both native and non-native victims. So far, no one has. Perhaps we are getting closer to that wonderful day.

Although we have maintained our belief all along that those who supported the victimization of other human beings were not in the majority on Six Nations, it was wonderful to hear you confirm it for me today. You have my sincerest gratitude and admiration for having the courage to speak the truth as a voice of reason. I have been waiting for this day for a long time.

Thank you.

Councillor Miller’s comments in her letter also found their way into this story:

About VoC’s ‘Strength of a Woman’ series

success_woman.jpegVoiceofCanada’s “The Strength of a Woman’ series are intended to honour the women who have both inspired and shamed us with their courage during the struggle against Two Tier Justice in Ontario. The title was inspired by Robin McGraw, wife of TV’s Dr. Phil – see ‘The Strength of a Woman’ – Lisa Parent for more info.

Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality