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Six Nations man in Brantford, Ont. Golf course occupation faces land claim charges

A Six Nations of the Grand River Oneida man faces criminal charges after helping for months lead a protest to stop the sale of a golf course in Brantford, Ont., Which Indigenous leaders say , is on their land.

Trevor Bomberry, 48, surrendered on Tuesday and was released on a promise to appear in court, Brantford police said.

Bomberry is due in court in February. His lawyer, Tim Gilbert, declined to comment publicly.

Bomberry is accused of having cut the lock on the front door of the Arrowdale golf course on October 9, 2021, to begin occupying the field, where he and others remained for months.

“This is our land. Most of Brantford is owned by our people,” Bomberry said previously.

The arrest is the latest in a series of intensifying developments following the city’s decision to try to sell nearly 13 acres of the Arrowdale property.

Brantford City Council voted to close the golf course and bring it to market in December 2019, saying the money would be used to create affordable housing. He also said he would use nearly seven hectares to create a park.

The occupation began after the city tried to sell land

But some community members protested the decision to sell land, criticizing advisers for their lack of transparency and dialogue with the local indigenous community.

A group of citizens, Know Your City Inc., filed a petition to save the golf course for the sake of the game, but also as a green space, community space and because it sits on native land. The group applied for a judicial review of the sale, but it was dismissed by the Ontario Divisional Court, which also dismissed the appeal.

Elite MD Developments made a $ 14 million offer, but the court granted a stay, which means the sale cannot go through.

The land is part of the Haldimand sector, which includes 10 kilometers on either side of the Grand River. It was granted to the Six Nations of the Grand River in 1784 for having allied with the British during the American Revolution.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the traditional Six Nations government, has called for a moratorium on the region’s development.

A previous demonstration by people from the Six Nations lasted a year and forced the cancellation of a major housing project in Caledonia.

The city of Brantford says it wants to sell part of the Arrowdale golf course and turn part of it into a park. (Commercial real estate services)

Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis said on December 10 that the Arrowdale property had not been offered – it had been legally acquired by the city in the 1920s and 1930s.

“There is no restriction on the property that prevents the city from selling it,” he wrote in a previous statement to CBC News.

“I appreciate Brantford’s relationship with the Six Nations of the Grand River (SNGR) and call on the federal and provincial governments to resolve the long-standing land claims filed by SNGR.

Stimulated by the mayor’s comments, which were included in The Brantford Expositor, Bomberry released his own statement, saying indigenous peoples “have no place in the Brantford dream”.

“There is national amnesia in this country for the treatment that has been and continues to be inflicted on indigenous peoples,” Bomberry wrote.

The injunction led to the end of the occupation

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted Brantford an interim injunction in late December which, according to city spokeswoman Maria Visocchi, caused protesters to leave Arrowdale on December 31.

The injunction names Bomberry, preventing him and others from being on the golf course.

The case is in court and they will appear on January 20.

Six Nations man in Brantford, Ont. Golf course occupation faces land claim charges
Bomberry first became involved in the occupation of Arrowdale Golf Course in October 2020. (Bobby Hristova / CBC)

Since the end of the occupation, charges of assault and mischief have also been laid in connection with the protests.

Brantford Police spokesman Robin Matthews-Osmond said a 19-year-old who was part of the Occupation allegedly assaulted a 45-year-old man on December 10 after a verbal altercation between several people. The 45-year-old was not injured.

Officers were there when this happened, to keep the peace, but issued a warrant on December 31. The 19-year-old was arrested on January 6.

When asked why the police have decided to execute warrants and charges now, Matthews-Osmond wrote: “As it is our duty to ensure the safety and welfare of the public, officers have focused their efforts on defusing any potential situation, however, if someone commits a criminal offense, they can be charged and arrested.

“The proper exercise of police discretion should not be confused with lack of enforcement. Police can often wait for a less risky opportunity to lay charges rather than escalating a situation. “