MOHAWKS DECLARE “THERE CAN BE NO PEACE IN A CLIMATE OF FEAR!” – IN RESPONSE TO NEW WAVE OF QUEBECOIS RACISM AGAINST NATIVE PEOPLES
Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka Territory
By the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke “There can be no Peace in a climate of FEAR” RE: Defense of our Ancestral Lands: the Long Standing Historical Land Grievances Against Canada, Quebec: fraudulent sales of our ancestral lands, housing and resource development, theft of our artifacts in Oka National Park; We the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke, the legitimate land holders of this territory gather here today to reiterate our opposition to all forms of development on our ancestral homelands. Guided by our constitution, Kaianera’kó:wa, we gather today to protect our lands and resources while standing united with other Onkwehón:we – Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island who are also experiencing land theft and dispossession through illegal developments upon their homelands.
Our goal has always been and will always be a Peaceful co-existence with all peoples but this is unattainable in a climate of fear and racism.
The desire for peace must be reciprocal based upon mutual respect, honesty and human rights, if it is to be achieved. Kaianera’kó:wa – the Great Law of Peace, gives guidance and strength to the people whereby it is the duty of the women to protect our lands while compelling the men of our nation to protect the people and ensure that no foreign entity brings harm to the important work the people do on behalf of the land, all our relations – to ensure that present and future generations enjoy the richness of our lands and its resources.
We have waited for centuries for a resolution to this injustice and land fraud. But Canada has hidden behind invalid and discriminatory racist Doctrines1 that justified their oppression and genocide of Onkwehón:we Peoples. These legal fictions impeded the peaceful resolution of our land grievances in1990 and are the foundations of the further impoverishment of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke’s land base in the past 27 years.
Canada and Quebec, in particular Oka have not learned from its past mistakes. The current situation of illegal development on our ancestral lands is intolerable and we can no longer endure the exploitation and theft of our lands and resources committed through coercive means by colonial governments and entities.
We will not accept the 1 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: pre-ambular para 4: “…all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust.” stalling by Canada and Quebec through vague statements feigning that they are attempting to resolving and halting the development on our territory.
History has shown that mere promises and nice words from the colonial governments are dubious at best.
On August 9th , we were informed by representatives of INAC that Minister Bennett reached out to Quebec government representatives to discuss the issue of illegal development. However, no details were disclosed as to whether or not Canada and Quebec were willing to proceed in halting the illegal development. Therefore we will continue our concerted efforts to occupy and protect our ancestral homelands on this illegal development site located on our ancestral lands. As the first UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, Rudolpho Stavenhagen stated in his January 2004 report: “One of the more serious human rights protection deficiencies in recent years is the trend towards the use of laws and the justice system to penalize and criminalize social protest activities and legitimate demands made by Indigenous organizations and movements in defence of their rights.”
The Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke have for 300 years have had our sovereignty usurped by colonial governments, criminalizing a whole nation for defending our lands from appropriation. For over 300 years, we have been denied access to and the enjoyment of our lands, our fundamental human rights violated through racist colonial laws. It is time to decolonize the relationship we have with settlers and learn from the past.
We therefore urge Canadians and Quebecois to pressure their governments to resolve this issue peacefully and for their governments to take responsibility for the creation of this conflict. The following are necessary factors for the addressing our long standing historical land grievances and for the promotion of peace in Kanehsatà:ke. However, this is not a comprehensive list of our historical grievances:
- We demand an immediate cessation to all activities on the illegal development site, especially the construction of any further buildings, infrastructure including water, sewage, road signs, and other related activities
- We demand Canada and Quebec immediately halt the land fraud that has allowed speculators like Gregoire Gollin and Collines d’Oka to appropriate more land for their interests. 2 Rudolfo Stavenhagen, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous people (E/CN.4/2004/80), COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, Sixtieth session, Item 15 of the provisional agenda, 26 January 2004, para.44
- We demand an immediate cessation of all development in the MRC’s “plan d’urbanization” that allows all forms of development in Oka, St. Joseph, PointeCalumet, Pointes-Aux-Anglais and other municipalities on our ancestral territory.
- We demand an immediate halt to all archeological digs presently taking place every Saturday in Kahnetà:ke, known as Parc Nationale d’Oka: we demand to know what artifacts have been discovered, where they are housed and that the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke have access to our cultural heritage currently in Quebec’s possession;
- We oppose TransCanada and Enbridge pipelines which have been constructed in our ancestral settlement now known as Oka Park and on other parts of our ancestral territory.
- We demand that Prime Minister Trudeau repeal Bill S-24 “the Kanesatake Interim Land Management Act” that has added to the complexity of our land grievances and was curiously fast tracked through the Senate.
- We demand Canada and Quebec repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius that has impoverished Indigenous peoples and impeded resolution to land theft, dispossession and appropriation.
- We demand compensation from the Seminary of St.-Sulpice, located in Montreal, Quebec for the hardship they have inflicted upon the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke for their coercive acts of land theft of the last 300 years
- We oppose the implementation of the Aqueduct system in our community, while the Municpalitié d’Oka receives a new water system paid for by INAC
- We demand that the resolution to our long standing historical land dispute with Canada and all Crown Actors, be with the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke under the Haudenosaunee Confederacy
Our lands are vast, rich in minerals and ideal for agricultural activities; we fully understand the great ‘economical’ value it holds for the colonizers. However, as the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke our work in this struggle is for present and future generations enjoyment of our lands, its resources and the enjoyment of our rights to self-determination.
Skén:nen – in peace The Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke
NB – The Mohawk case on Oka has a deeper meaning for me, as a 17 year old boy in 1990 when the Oka crisis dominated the nightly news even in my Caribbean Island of Barbados, I felt angry and frustrated and worked to save up enough money to buy a plane ticket from Barbados to Toronto, then made my way as far as Akwesasne to Francis Boots House (but only his wife was there and she let me stay the night in a guest room), because even though I am of the Lokono-Arawak tribe – I wanted to join the Mohawk Warrior Society and be on the front lines with my Mohawk cousins…but the RCMP near Akwesasne took me into custody and repatriated me to my country as I was an underaged minor. Damon Gerard Corrie