Mohawk Council of Kahnawake angry over unfulfilled land promise
Published Saturday, December 5, 2015 5:10PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 5, 2015 6:51PM EST
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is fuming mad and demanding to meet with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard over major development plans on the land promised to their people.
In 2013 the Quebec government promised to return to Kahnawake approximately 500 acres of land north of the Highway 30 expansion to compensate for the area that was used when they expanded the highway.
Mayors in the surrounding area filed an injunction in 2013 to block the land transfer, saying they hadn't been consulted by the province, but Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiroh Norton of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said the Mohawk people were never consulted about these new plans for economic development on land that is ultimately theirs.
“The federal government has recognized that it's our territory. The Quebec government has recognized that it's our territory. I believe even the MRC recognizes that it's our territory. But they're behaving like it's theirs,” said Norton, who called it the worst form of political backstabbing.
Legislation was introduced on Friday in the National Assembly to allow the economic development project.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land OccupancyPierre Moreau agreed with the chief that a meeting needs to take place, but he said he also feels the development plans should go ahead.
“The government of Quebec agreed to transfer to the Kahnawake reserve a certain amount of land that were not used for the purpose of Highway 30 and I think now we have to sit together to discuss because I think it’s a wonderful project that will bring economic prosperity to all the regions including the Kahnawake reserve.”
For Norton, the situation brings up memories of the Oka Crisis.
“The municipality of Oka was pushing to develop what they considered to be their land. Everyone's disputing and negotiating and here comes the City of Oka, the mayor, they get an injunction, sending in the troops, if you will, and that's what sparked the 78-day standoff back then,” he said. “I'm not predicting that will happen here, but at the same time, they didn't learn their lesson. When are they going to learn their lesson that you simply cannot do that to Mohawk people? We will not stand for it.”
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake hasn't heard from Couillard, but is planning to destabilize the development projects if an agreement can't be reached.