Mohawk Workers hold ceremony, continue fight for water services
Photo by Sean Allen, Brant News
Cameron Martin, left, explains the purpose behind a spiritual unity fire to a group gathered at Kanata Village on Saturday.
As they continue to fight the City of Brantford for water services, the Mohawk Workers are calling for a united spiritual future.
The group attracted a cross-section of local residents to attend a spiritual unity fire at Kanata Village on Saturday. Cameron Martin said the small fire – which had been burning since Wednesday – was symbolic in nature.
“One of our spiritual leaders – who I believe is in the Northwest Territories – is having a fire at the same time,” Martin said. “He is trying to confer to the greater power that it is time for us to all have a united spiritual future.”
Martin led the gathering through ceremonial recitations as he wished for unity among all people.
But as the Mohawk Workers look for spiritual unity with the world, they are still battling for use of the Kanata Village facility with Brantford city hall.
Spokesperson Jason Bowman said the group is still waiting for the municipality to turn on the municipal water supply after it was cut off in December.
“After cutting off all our services, the city relented and gave us a hydro account,” Bowman said. “But they persist in denying us water.”
Bowman said the workers have sent a request to city hall for a water and wastewater account, which he said the Mohawk Workers will pay.
But in a letter dated Jan. 16, Brantford CAO Ted Salisbury explained that city staff have been directed to negotiate a lease agreement with the Mohawk Workers before considering turning the taps back on.
“Upon the finalization of a lease agreement, the city will consent to the establishment of an account for water and wastewater services in your name,” Salisbury’s letter reads.
Bowman said that flies in the face of all the Mohawk Workers are fighting for.
“We already have a lease with the Mohawk Nation, which is the true titleholder for this land,” he said. “If it turns out the city will try to compel the Mohawks to sign a lease and give up the land, there will be serious consequences under the full extent of the law.”
Bowman said the Mohawk Workers are asserting their land title rights on the eight-acre Kanata property as a starting point to establish and function as an administrative group. He said the Mohawk Workers would like the water turned back on.
“Until the water was cut off, we were open to the public,” he said. “We were having vendor markets, giving tours and welcoming international visitors to the site. We’d like to be able to resume those activities, but we can’t without water.”
The Mohawk Workers have been occupying the building at Kanata Village for several years. City council took action last fall to cut off services, noting that nearly $50,000 in unpaid hydro and water bills had been accumulating.