SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER, ONTARIO — A lacrosse team in Six Nations of the Grand River has gone to court in an attempt to secure exclusive rights for a junior A lacrosse franchise in the community.
The Six Nations Arrows Lacrosse Association – which is part of a group trying to form a new league – has launched its legal action against the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League and its umbrella organization, the Ontario Lacrosse Association.
The Arrows allege the OLA and the OJALL acted improperly once the team announced its intention to join the upstart league.
Legal documents show that the Arrows are looking to block the OJALL and the OLA from creating another Six Nations junior A lacrosse team. The Arrows are also asking the court for $100,000 in damages if they are not declared the exclusive franchise rights holders.
Lewis Staats, team president of the Six Nations Arrows, said the case is the team's attempt to uphold its rights as the owner of the franchise in Canada's largest First Nations territory.
"We've owned and operated the franchise for 30-plus years here in Six Nations," said Staats. "We initiated the action because we feel that the OJALL and actions they have taken are in violation of our rights as the franchise owner."
The Arrows announced their intention to leave the OLA and the OJALL on Jan. 25 to become a founding member of the Tewaaraton Lacrosse League — a new junior A league set to operate in southern Ontario.
The OJALL said it expelled the Arrows from the league after the declaration of their intent to leave.
A spokeswoman said its board of governors met on Jan. 31 and voted to remove the team's representative from the board and moved to seek out new management to keep a team in Six Nations.
The Arrows allege the OJALL acted unlawfully when it expelled the team from the league and without authority it they removed the team's governor from the board.
Following the Arrows' removal from the league, pro lacrosse player Cody Jamieson became the new governor of a yet-to-be established Six Nations team with the OJALL and was joined by fellow pro player Randy Staats.
Mark Grimes, OJALL commissioner, said that he hopes to have a team from Six Nations in the league for a very long time
"It’s a very exciting time for Six Nations players to play for two of the best players in the world in Cody Jamieson and Randy Staats," said Grimes in a statement.
The Six Nations Arrows are one of the most successful teams in OJALL history, winning nine league titles and five Minto Cups, Canada's national junior lacrosse championship.
Both the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League and the Tewaaraton Lacrosse League say they are devising return-to-play plans to allow for a season this summer as Ontario eases COVID-19 restrictions.
— By John Chidley-Hill in Toronto.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2021.
The Canadian Press