We are citizens and community members and we are Treaty people.
We aim to honour the Treaties (Nanfan, Two Row, Niagara) and as well as support inherent Indigenous food sovereignty and cultural food security.
We believe as members of this community, both Indigenous Peoples and settler-allies alike, that it is our responsibility to show support and work with the Haudenosaunee Habitat and Wildlife Authority as well as Haudenosaunee hunters on this yearly hunt.
We affirm, by our presence on this ground, the social justice inherent in affirming Treaty rights and responsibilities. We encourage others in this territory to support Haudenosaunee hunters and their Treaty rights through non-violent social action and support.
Haudenosaunee harvesters have legal treaty rights to hunt at Short Hills Provincial Park and, for the past 5 years, have held an annual harvest of white-tailed deer. However, approximately 25 local community members oppose this treaty right and have put up a physical barricade blocking Haudenosaunee hunters from having direct access into, and out of, the park.
The anti-hunt protesters established a vehicle stall that was supervised by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Niagara Regional Police Department. During this time, anti-hunt protesters surrounded hunters’ vehicles, aimed their flashlights into the faces of Haudenosaunee drivers, and their passengers, and called out various derogatory statements. In response, a solidarity picket was established (in consultation with the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority) by Supporters of the Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt.
Over the years, the vehicle stall has been reduced from 10-20 minutes per vehicle (3 years ago), to a stall of 5 minutes per vehicle (Nov 2016). Although the stall has been reduced in time, the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority and the Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt are of the opinion that the Niagara Regional Police and the OPP must no longer allow this illegal barricade. The harvesters have legal and inherent rights to Short Hills, and settlers should not be allowed to intervene.
In fact, the assumption that members of settler society should be involved in determining what happens on Haudenosaunee traditional land is quite troubling. It is important to note, too, that non-Aboriginal (white) hunters who hunt in the surrounding areas, in deed even across the street from Short Hills Provincial Park, have not been subjected to any form of protest.
Reconciliation activities and events are designed as an opportunity for the Niagara community to learn more about this critical social justice issue and to come out to the Short Hills in a peaceful, non-violent manner to show that we will not tolerate anti-hunt racism and on-going efforts at colonialism and cultural assimilation. Community members are invited to bring a lawn chair, an open mind and positive energy.
A Message from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy
Re: Harvesting Deer on Crown Land
The Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority has negotiated a series of agreements to provide safe hunting areas for Haudenosaunee deer hunters.
While we have Treaty hunting rights all over southwestern Ontario, there are not many places where we can avoid coming into contact and potential conflict with other hunters and with landholders. At the same time, there are places where large deer populations are threatening the balance of natural ecosystems: the managers of those places welcome working with us to restore balance. We have had agreements with Parks Canada about Navy Island; Parks Ontario about Short Hills Provincial Park; the Hamilton Conservation Authority about the Dundas Valley; and the Royal Botanical Gardens about its arboretum. These are reciprocal agreements.
On our side, it means a commitment that our hunters will maintain high standards of safety, discipline, and conservation. On the side of our partners, it means ensuring that the hunting environment will be safe and protected. This is not just about deer hunting. We are also becoming involved in addressing the threat of invasive species of several kinds, to restore the balance of our ecosystems. We are engaging in conversations with our partners about the impact of climate change. And, as important as the other achievements, we are building solid, respectful partnerships and working relationships with agencies and officials of other governments.
A Note on Solidarity Peace Work
Harvest season is beginning and the Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt welcome you to a new year of solidarity with the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority. Last year was a shining example of how settlers and Indigenous people can work together to recognize Treaty Rights and uphold Indigenous Human Rights. We are very proud of the peacebuilding that we achieved together. As we continue our work, we invite members of the community to join us in our activities and in showing support to the Harvesters from 2:00 pm-6:30 pm each day of the harvest.
We as supporters are accountable to Haudenosaunee Habitat and Wildlife Authority, who have provided specific instructions on how they wish us to do this work. It is expected that supporters do not engage in any disrespectful manner with anti-hunt protesters. Please come with a positive attitude and peace on your mind and in your hearts.
Our solidarity work and approach are centred on educating others and following the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace. If you as a supporter begin to feel triggered or upset, a Firekeeper with medicines and healing words will be present. There will also be a debrief at the end of each day to help us leave with a clear mind and spirit.
With peace and love in our hearts we can overcome hate.
I am so excited to see you all again this year.
Celeste Smith, Co-founder of Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt