On Tuesday May 29th, Francine “Flower” Doxtator – a Haudenosaunee [Six Nations] land defender, grandmother and member of the April 28th Coalition – appeared in court in Cayuga, Ontario, as a result of charges stemming from an incursion by Gary McHale and the OPP at Kanonhstaton – the Six Nations reclamation site in Caledonia – on February 18th, 2012. As Flower and a group of about 15 of her supporters left the court room, they were approached in the lobby by a group of OPP officers, one of whom grabbed Flower by her broken arm and tried to re-arrest her.
Flower and her supporters were outraged and demanded to know what the new charges were. After a tense discussion in the lobby of the court-house, the officers finally explained that they had evidence that Flower had been present at Kanonhstaton on April 28th during the walk for “Peace, Respect, and Friendship” and that because this constituted a “breach” of her conditions, they were going to charge and arrest her.
They claimed that by being at Kanonhstaton on April 28th, Flower had breached conditions stemming from charges of February 18th when anti-native rights activist, Gary McHale, marched onto Kanonstaton. Escorted by OPP officers, McHale had succeeded yet again in instigating conflict by unexpectedly marching towards the house at Kanonhstaton and disturbing the Haudenosaunee people living there. As tensions rose, charges were laid against several Six Nations land defenders for allegedly “obstructing” and “assaulting” OPP officers.
After she was arrested in late April on charges relating to February 18th, restrictive bail conditions were placed on Flower aimed at preventing her from standing up for Six Nations land rights. Serious procedural and legal issues abound about the manner in which those bail conditions were imposed on Flower, and she intends to challenge those conditions on a number of different grounds.
Because of the powerful stand made by Flower and her friends and allies in the lobby of the courthouse on May 29th, the crown agreed to discuss the matter with Flower and her supporters. As a result of the discussions that followed, the court was reconvened to hear this matter and to review Flower’s bail conditions.
This intervention led to a decision by the courts that although she would technically be re-arrested in the courtroom and charged with a breach of her conditions, Flower would be released immediately, with a Toronto based CUPE 3903 member acting as her surety. While the police and court system have again criminalized Flower for exercising her treaty rights and refuse to allow her to return to Kanonhstaton, a victory was nonetheless won as supporters stopped Flower’s incarceration.
However, we must continue to build support for Six Nations land defenders and resist the actions of the colonial courts in criminalizing Six Nations land defenders. Flower is still not legally allowed to return to Kanonhstaton and in order to avoid jail she had to agree to live with her surety in Toronto – away from her home, her community and friends, her daughter, and her four grandchildren. All of us living on this land are treaty people, and we as treaty people must overcome such outrageous and heartbreaking violations of treaty and human rights by building support for our friends and allies at Six Nations.
In terms of a legal strategy, money is urgently needed in order to hire a lawyer to overturn Flower’s restrictive bail conditions, appoint a new surety from Six Nations and lift the condition stating that she cannot reside at her home on Kanonhstaton. Because the crown refuses to change these conditions, they must be appealed to a higher court. This will require raising money to pay for transcripts of Flower’s previous hearings as well as $3000-$5000 in legal costs for the court challenge.
The April 28th Coalition is asking for your help to support Flower in a number of ways:
• Pass a motion within your union or political organization denouncing this political repression of indigenous land rights activists.
• Invite Flower and other members of the April 28th Coalition to come and speak to your group about her case and the larger issues of Six Nations land rights and activism in support of treaty rights.
• Raise money to help cover the legal costs of appealing the court’s decision to ban Flower from Kanonhstaton.
• Send money to help Flower cover the cost of replacing the glasses the police broke while arresting her and to aid with her living costs while she is in Toronto.
• Come to Flower’s next court appearance at 2pm on June 26th in Cayuga, Ontario.
• Get involved in the April 28th Coalition.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with us and tell us how you can help with any of these matters. Cheques can be made payable to “First Nations Solidarity Working Group” and mailed c/o Laura Lepper to 193 Tansley Rd., Thornhill, ON, L4J 2Y8. You can also donate money via credit card or paypal by clicking on the “donate” button at the http://www.april28.net website.
The April 28th Coalition.