Kanesatake members upset after a party attracted hundreds to the territory on Saturday
MONTREAL -- Mohawk Council of Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon and many of his community members are not happy after a party at a local cannabis shop attracted hundreds of people, who weren't wearing masks and crowded into a small area to listen to DJs.
"I would describe it as pure debauchery," said Simon.
The Green Room Oka is one of the many cannibis stores located on Highway 344 that runs through the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community about 40 minutes north of Montreal.
The shop advertised an outside DJ battle party on its Facebook page, that an employee at the shop said got out of hand.
"We didn't know it was going to be like that at all," said the employee who did not want their name used. "We didn't aim to do a party. It was supposed to be a maximum 40-50 people and it got out of hand."
He said staff told the DJ to stop spinning once the crowd grew, and that they shut the party down at 8:30 p.m., but it took some time to get all the people off the territory due to traffic backing up.
Surete du Quebec spokesperson Stephane Tremblay said SQ squad cars parked at the bottom of the hill in the municipality of Oka to direct traffic off the territory once the party died down. He added that there were no reports of fines being given or arrests being made.
Simon is upset that the SQ didn't do more to dissuade partygoers from entering his territory earlier.
Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon also said he contacted the government of Quebec about the cars parked on the shoulder of the two-lane highway, but that not enough was done to stop the party from getting out of hand.
"The finding is very disappointing over and over again," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Kanesatake depends on the SQ for security as it does not have a local police force.
Simon has repeatedly said that Kanesatake needs a police force of its own, which it has not had since 2004.
"We're kind of reluctant to bring them onto the territory because it leads to worse problems," he said. "I've been asking the government for almost 10 years to reestablish our policing service under different conditions from the last one."
A Kanesatake community member told CTV News that nearby residents were in their driveways with bats and two-by-fours to keep non-residents from parking on their property and that some were considering using tractors and chains to pull the cars away.
"What happened yesterday was dangerous for this community on so many levels," the community member said.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault called the situation "unacceptable" in a news conference on Sunday in Montreal.
"This can’t happen again," he said. 'Discussions are ongoing with police forces there."
Kanesatake's COVID-19 Emergency Response Unit updates the community regularly on the status of the pandemic. The community has reported 35 cases and two deaths since the start of the pandemic and health restrictions remain in place including limited gatherings.
Simon is upset that so many people from outside the territory came and did not follow health guidelines, and that a local business hosted the event.
"These people come here and they disrespect the community and once they're on the reserve they think that they're Mohawks and can do whatever they want," said Simon.
Simon and many in the community are concerned that parties such as the one Saturday will continue to happen.
"We're not even the first day of summer, and this is going on," he said. "We've had other incidents last spring."
The Green Room employee said the establishment will not be hosting any future events.