Writer takes Sheguiandah protestors to task

To the Expositor:

Re: Sheguiandah First Nation Protest

I would like to share some truth about the situation and hopefully educate the public at large. The general public, including those on the Sheguiandah First Nation, have been duped and misled. It was recently shared by Chief Aguonie that there was $69 thousand in rent arrears owing and this only for one year. I can understand why he is on the protest line. Of the $69 thousand, the people that are protesting owe $44 thousand of that. I have to wonder what is going through the protesters’ minds (‘all we have to do is protest and then we don’t have to rent and we go back to the way things were with previous leadership’).

Our mortgage has to be paid some way. This creates a deficit and if the situation gets bad enough then third party management comes into play at $l,000/day. The protesters probably never gave this any thought as to where these monies would come from. This is where our community was prior to Chief Aguonie taking control of the finances.

I see protest signs that read, “We want our community back.” My question is, where did it go? Another sign reads, “Elder abuse.” The only elders being abused here are the elders that cannot access their centre. Still another sign reads “SFN under siege.” Under siege by who? Band members are unable to access the recreation centre, elders’ centre and mailboxes because of the protesters. People have to get their mail at post office off-reserve because of the verbal abuse that is directed at them by the protesters. Who is really under siege? I would say that the community is under siege by the protesters and the outside agitators that stand with them.

We have bingos to help offset the cost of programming, but in the past this has also been abused. We had one group raising funds for one year and they had over 20 bingos and only raised $2,500. My wife did some fundraising; she had two bingos and raised $2,900. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the balance went to. We had one individual having bingos to raise funds to help with the cost of funerals in the community. She raised funds for over 10 years, but when my neighbor passed away and the family went to this individual, they were told there were no funds available. This is the status quo I am referring to and this is what the chief refers to as “the gravy train.”

In the past, employees of the band would go to work hung over or drunk, they would miss days or even weeks of work and they would still have a job with a full paycheck. Would municipalities or companies tolerate this type of behaviour? This dysfunctional behavior is no longer tolerated and the new work incentive is, “work or get let go.” The chief and council recently updated our personnel policy which hadn’t been done in years. Previously, the staff had help developing the old personnel policy. The staff had wanted all Christian holidays as well as an additional 16 days off for seasonal ceremonies. This is in addition to the mental health days, family days and two weeks paid leave at Christmas. All of that has been changed by the chief and council. History was made at our last council meeting—an education policy was accepted and adopted. This was a first for our community. This is structure and not a dictatorship, as the protesters would have everyone believe.

In regards to the law, I wonder how many are going to be charged after all is said and done. Both protesting council members should be charged with mischief and break and enter. A placard reads, “stop the violence.” This is a small community and everyone knows who the troublemakers and hardcore drinkers are. These people than have the audacity to hold up signs at the protest. Our local police force is no help and by doing nothing they are actually compounding the issue. The issue being lawlessness!

Natural law will have to take place—the law of balance and truth. This is not the manmade law that has failed us long ago and has turned into a band-aid solution.

We have people from other communities at the protest. My question to them is, “What vested interest do you have in our community?” These outsiders help feed the fire of hatred and fear. They put gossip out there, saying that we have hired “GOONs” from Six Nations to break up their protest. This is preposterous! GOON is an acronym from Pine Ridge Reservation and means Guardians of the Oglala Nation. They do not come from southern Ontario. This is just another fear tactic used by the non-band members.

It has been said that everyone takes to love effortlessly and hatred has to be taught. I have to wonder what these protesters are teaching their young ones. It is a sad reality that there is multigenerational hate in our community.

We have three previous chiefs protesting. They are protesting a problem they helped create. None of these chiefs have had the courage to put structure in place or try to make sure our kids and grandkids have some kind of future to look forward to. Now they want to take a step backwards. How pathetic.

The two council members that are protesting have a misconception of what power is. I would like to publicly ask for their resignation. This is not leadership of any kind. A true leader would tender their resignation and protest as a non-member of council.

In closing, this protest group refers to being bullied by the chief but to me, the only ones being bullied are the non-protesting community members and the chief. These two councillors at large are trying to force an agenda that is totally unhealthy and biased.

Jake Ago neh, councillor

Sheguiandah First Nation