Entrepreneur Jason Hill builds on Six Nations’ cultural traditions

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    Many Canadians know Six Nations of the Grand River as the most populous of the country’s First Nations territories. For entrepreneur Jason Hill, it’s the place where he learned values and traditions that would provide a solid foundation for success in business<, and life.

    In Six Nations, who you are is an easy question to answer — a member of a community, and the steward of a long and vibrant cultural inheritance. Even the most successful in this community never forget that it is the Haudenosaunee tradition that has brought them so far.

    In the original native language, the name Haudenosaunee literally means: “They build houses.” Often commonly referred to as the Iroquois, the Haudenosaunee’s architecture has always been central to the community’s identity, and has also caught the eye of visitors, from the first European settlers to the tourists who flock to this graceful land in southern Ontario.

    As one of the territory’s entrepreneurs, Jason Hill has done more than his part to honor and fulfill this tradition. Not only did he establish a construction company in Six Nations, he crowned it with the motto: “Together We Build.” That is the essence of the Haudenosaunee tradition: to create, to build, to innovate — and to do it as a community. Together, always.

    In Six Nations, there is a culture of community. Here, too, language is instructive: the very name “Six Nations” means community and peace. It represents the unity of Iroquois that was achieved over many generations, an enduring unity that was built on the strong foundation of social cooperation.

    This unity was achieved deep in Iroquois tradition by a man known as The Peacemaker, revered for the power of his wisdom and example that convinced the separate nations to choose cooperation over conflict.

    According to legend, Peacemaker taught the lesson of strength in unity to leaders of the disparate nations by breaking a single arrow, illustrating its fragility; and then holding aloft five arrows in a bundle that could not be broken. The arrows represented the original five nations, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations. The Tuscarora nation later became the sixth.

    The Peacemaker sealed the peace by convincing leaders to bury their weapons of war under the Tree of Peace, an imposing white pine.

    The Peacemaker not only brought peace, but also established justice. He gave the people The Great Law, which is central to the Iroquois concept of community and social equality to this day. Its concepts are powerful, among them: Live life with a good mind and good intentions. Abide by the laws of nature, and achieve individual freedom through the wellbeing of the community.

    These concepts didn’t remain exclusive to the Iroquois lands. The success of Iroquois institutions of governance influenced some of America’s founding fathers, who learned more about the practical application of federalism and separation of powers by reading the history of the Iroquois nations. And in the social realm, the Iroquois’ devotion to the equality of women was generations ahead of its time.

    Jason Hill has learned these lessons well. As he explained to an interviewer recently: “As someone who was raised here, and learned my most important life lessons from my family, neighbors and mentors here, I saw the need for a hometown-based construction company. Today, across the territory, magnificent structures stand as a monument to the creation of that business, Ace1 Construction.

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