The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake would like to announce that it has filed legal actions against the Municipality of Oka as well as the Province of Quebec, following Oka’s adoption of bylaw 2020-223 which wrongfully designated the ‘Pines’ as being a municipal heritage site.
This press release follows the September 5th 2020 and October 21st 2020 press releases by the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake which attempted to advise against and raise awareness about Oka’s plans to impose its control of parts of Kanesatake’s unceded lands. The lands targeted by Oka’s bylaw is the Pines forest, the same lands that were in contention in 1990 and which led the what is know by most as the Oka Crisis, or the Siege of Kanesatake, subsequently bringing light to indigenous lands theft and issues on an international stage.
The legal action states
“The heritage site by-law was adopted in bad faith, for an improper purpose, without the constitutionally required consultation of the Mohawks of Kanesatake, and in violation of Mohawk rights pursuant to the Treaty of Oswegatchie and of Mohawk ancestral rights and title. It is an abuse of power, unreasonable, and contrary to the honour of the Crown and to Canada’s commitments under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and The American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples . In sum, the by-law is illegal and must be quashed by this court.”
A bylaw proposed, processed and adopted in bad faith and imbued in systemic racism
When going about it’s process of ‘consulting’ Oka’s population on the adoption of the bylaw, the mayor stated that :
“M. Grégoire Gollin does not oppose the bylaw, thus he is in agreement”. The following day, Mr. Gollin issued a statement refuting the mayor’s comments and calling on him to “build bridges, not walls”.
“Tonight’s process of consultation is tied to the consultation of the members of Kanesatake, since we understand that the people of Kanesatake are part of Oka’s territory, so Kanesatake is part of Oka’s territory”
The 90 or so attendees of the ‘so-called consultation were almost unilaterally in disfavor of the proposed bylaw.
Oka’s true intent – Prevent Mohawks from repatriating their lands
Oka’s mayor claims today that his intents are noble and only wants to protect the pines from development. However, since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in the summer of 2019 between M. Grégoire Gollin (private owner of 2/3 of the Pines’ artificial title targeted by the bylaw) and the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, the mayor and its municipality are undoubtedly on a quest to prevent Kanesatake from repatriating its ancestral lands.
It was during that same summer that the mayor of Oka made remarks that were decried as racist and incendiary by other members of the municipal council, and were met with shock and opprobrium from Quebec’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the Prime Minister of Canada.
The mayor issued a public apology for the remarks and tensions that he caused during the First Nations – Municipalities Summit in Wendake, Qc on September 30th 2019. The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake now realizes that the mayor’s words and promises were however regrettably empty.
Oka’s bylaw can only be perceived as another deception straight from the colonizer’s textbook. An obvious attempt to add another layer of complexity in what is an already complex situation, and who’s only purpose is to prevent Mohawks from exercising their historical and rightful jurisdiction of our lands.
Canada, Quebec, MRC des Deux-Montagnes to be included in the motion
Canada as well as the MRC are included in this proceeding as a “mise-en-cause” (put on notice), which means a party that has an interest in the proceeding, but against whom the applicant does not ask for any order.
Quebec is also included as a Defendant because we will argue that it had a duty to consult the Mohawks in order for Oka’s bylaw to be valid – this is because Oka is a creation of the Crown in Right of Quebec, rather than the Crown in Right of Canada. We will argue that, since the Crown did not consult the Mohawks, the bylaw is thus invalid.
As such, we are asking the courts to :
– QUASH AND DECLARE NULL Oka’s bylaw
– DECLARE that the Government of Quebec has failed to consult the Mohawks regarding the bylaw
– PROHIBIT the Municipality of Oka from taking any further actions to limit or inhibit the transfer of the Pines to Mohawk control;
This legal action’s intent is not to settle Kanesatake’s longstanding land claim on the Seigneurie of Two-Mountains. Nonetheless, the Council does not, at this time, exclude any future actions against Canada, Quebec or the municipality in order to pursue the community’s long-standing claims on the Seigneurie of Two-Mountains.
As always, in peace, mutual understanding and friendship.
Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simo