Protestors condemn 'lawlessness' and environmental risks in Kanesatake
The sound of gunshots rang outside the National Assembly on Wednesday as masked protestors played a recording to represent sounds they say are becoming the norm in Kanesatake.
The anonymous group armed with cardboard cutout guns call themselves supporters of the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community who are fed up with a growing culture of lawlessness on the territory, located about 50 kilometres west of Montreal.
"Fear and nervousness, and sadness as well, that it's come to that," said one of the protestors.
Two Kanesatake residents, who also spoke to CTV News on the basis of anonymity, echoed that sentiment.
"Even before 1990, you never heard a gunshot. Now you hear automatic gunfire on a daily basis. And it's still unnerving," said the resident, who was not at the protest.
Another community member described the situation as a "high-risk powder keg about to blow up."
Some say the police are not doing enough to fight organized crime on the territory. Beyond the violence, there are concerns a nearby dump has contaminated the drinking water.
The protestors are calling for an independent investigation with the participation of the United Nations. They say they want to see community members consulted, and they want the land decontaminated.
Quebec's Indigenous affairs minister, Ian Lafreniere, says he will meet with Kanesatake Grand Chief Victor Bonspille and federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hadju in the coming days.
In a press scrum on Wednesday, Lafreniere said the dump site is on the agenda and will be his "first question for Patty Hadju."
But some worry the meeting will lack transparency.
"They are not interested. We are the disposable people. It is high time that people really understand who we are, not these pretend warriors or these pretend Mohawks who have no use for their language and culture," said a Kanesatake resident.
Quebec's Environment Ministry has estimated the cost of decontaminating the dump in the tens of millions of dollars.