The longtime administrator of the Six Nations Reserve, the most populous First Nations community in Canada, was charged with the criminal assault of an indigenous woman from Ohsweken, ON, following a Superior Court hearing in Brantford yesterday.
Canadians from coast to coast have been calling for his termination and the incident is quickly becoming a flashpoint in the national discourse on violence against indigenous women — and more broadly about how men in executive positions treat women who question their judgment.
Senior Administrative Officer Dayle Bomberry is an Indian Agent who administers federal works programs delivered by the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC), an agency constructed and governed by the Indian Act.
On May 27, Bomberry physically attacked Rhonda Martin outside of the Reserve’s Central Administration Building. Martin is a high-profile organizer who has mobilized the community against the longstanding fraud and abuses of the SNEC administration and its Indian agents.
Bomberry is due in court on August 29th at 9:00 am.
Bomberry shoved Martin and attempted to use a vehicle door as a weapon against her. Martin has several witnesses of the incident and produced a damning recording of the situation to the Court yesterday, after which charges were finally laid against Bomberry — despite the incident being reported weeks ago.
Canada’s federal Indian agents were evicted from the Reserve’s central administration building by Haudenosaunee activists, which has been enforced in the weeks since by blockade. Bomberry attacked Martin outside of that building, in plain view of demonstrators.
The Provincial Court of Ontario has attempted to lay an injunction against Haudenosaunee officials who have been enforcing that action, but the Haudenosaunee assert that the Courts of Ontario are of no effect in Indian Country. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy retains sovereign title over the Grand River Territory, a swath of land twelve miles wide that travels along the Grand River from its source, north of Toronto, to its delta at Lake Erie.
“No person has a right to lay their hands on anyone unless in self-defense,” Martin explains.
“I have four daughters and three granddaughters that I need to protect… what kind of message would I be sending to them if I don’t protect myself? It is my role and responsibility as an Ohgwehoweh woman and mother to tell my girls not to be afraid to speak up and to always defend and protect themselves,” she says, in explaining why she fought for weeks to press charges.
“We have thousands of murdered and missing indigenous women and men across Turtle Island, and if I don’t speak up then these atrocities will only continue. We need to continue to keep the awareness in its fullest and clearest form that no one has that right to assault to anyone,” she adds.
Community members and civic leaders have been calling on SNEC to terminate Bomberry for cause. They are expected to take up the issue at their next meeting, but that Council has been conducting business in hiding since the body was expelled from their chambers.
Martin’s supporters have been encouraging her to run for SNEC Chairperson, but she laughs off the suggestion. The current Chairperson, Ava Hill, does not plan to seek the seat.