– How Anti-Hunt Protesters Try To Suffocate Treaty Rights
An Analysis of recent events at Short Hills Provincial Park from the Christian Peacemaker Team and other Supporters of the Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt
(This is the latest in a series of commentaries Niagara At Large is posting for and against the latest fall deer hunt in Short Hills Provincial Park located near the centre of Niagara, Ontario.)
November 19th, 2015 – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Niagara Regional Police (NRP) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) continue to comply with the anti-hunt protesters’ barricade which prevents hunters from entering and exiting the park.
Negotiations ensure that the protesters’ stall-time is maintained at 5 minutes per vehicle. Hunters and supporters indicate that although this delay is incrementally less than previous years, tolerance and patience for this process is wearing thin. The barricade must be removed.
Haudenosaunee hunters must be supported in accessing their inherent and treaty rights without interference from anti-hunt protesters.
The MNRF and the OPP allows protesters to block the park entrance with their vehicles. The OPP told Jodielynn Harrison, an organizer with the Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right, that the police were only trying to “keep the peace” and that “they were concerned with maintaining a balance between protesters and hunters.” After demands that the hunters not be obstructed, the OPP officer on site spoke to MNRF officials and together, they ordered the protesters’ vehicle be removed from the park entrance.
Haudenosaunee hunters are subject to harassment and interference while participating in the anti-hunt protesters barricade. Anti-hunt protesters try to dominate the entrance to Short Hills Provincial Park, but the presence of supporters has grown significantly. Over two dozen people attended in support of the Haudenosaunee hunters, this past weekend.
The second night of the hunt, saw a marked turn in the atmosphere of the protest. Through laughter, drumming, singing, and dancing, Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt came together with Indigenous peoples to celebrate the traditional hunt. “It was encouraging to see Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples coming together in a cultural celebration of this traditional hunt,” stated Chuck Wright, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). “Unlike previous days that were antagonistic and hostile, song and dance transformed the space into one that was more respectful and joyful.”
CPT, an international human rights organization, has been present at the hunt for the last two years. They witness and document the anti-hunt protesters obstruction of the hunters’ access to the park. CPT reports that, this year, one hunter was barred from leaving the park to attend work on the afternoon of November 14, while another hunter was prevented from entering the park later in the afternoon on November 15.
Treaty rights are at the core of this issue. But, the reality of deer overpopulation is important, as well. The MNRF have identified overpopulation as one of the main reasons for devastated landscapes where flora and fauna are consumed to the point of erasure. The crowding of deer herds into close proximity increases the spread of disease, which heightens the potential for harmful contact with nearby human communities.
Anti-hunt protesters say public safety and protection of the park are the key reasons for their protest. But Supporters of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt continue to observe that the hunters and the MNRF are experienced professionals who exercise sound safety practices with integrity and provide good stewardship of the land and animals, as has been the case since time immemorial.
Supporters will continue to gather at the Pelham Road entrance to the Short Hills Provincial Park for the duration of the traditional hunt. They will continue to bear witness and, with a Peace Food Table, continue to offer food and beverages to anti-hunt protesters, supporters, police, MNRF and hunters. All members of the Niagara Region are welcome to participate. Reconciliation is active work. Supporters are doing their best to ensure that process is respectful of Haudenosaunee peoples, treaty rights and sovereignty.
The next scheduled dates of the hunt are Friday, November 20th , Saturday, November 28th and Sunday, November 29th 2015.
For more information on this issue and on Christian Peacemaker Teams in Canada visit – http://www.cpt.org/category/cptnet-categories/canada and sixnationsrighttohunt.tumblr.com
For further information, www.sixnationsrighttohunt.tumblr.com
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