On 21 August 2019, Ellen Gabriel and other Kanien’kéha:ka (Mohawk) of Kanehsatà:ke held a press conference in the Pines, the site of the so-called “Oka Crisis” that took place in the summer of 1990, to address the ongoing land fraud in their homelands. They are giving Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada 10 days to intervene in the 300-year long land dispute and to stop all illegal development in Kanehsatà:ke.
Earlier this summer, Sean Carleton sat down with Ellen Gabriel to talk about the recent developments Kanehsatà:ke that led to the calling of the press conference.
Canadian Dimension stands with the Kanien’kéha:ka (Mohawk) of Kanehsatà:ke and proudly publishes their full press release below.
Seské:ha - August 21, 2019
Re: Prime Minister Trudeau to intervene and STOP all Land Fraud and illegal development in Kanehsatà:ke
Ónka : the Rotinonhseshá:ka ne Kanehsatà:ke (People of the Longhouse)
Ka’non – Where: Kanehsatà:ke, Iroquois Confederacy Homelands
Wa’tkwanonweráton – Greetings and thank you all for coming to the press conference of the Rotinonhseshá:ka of of Kanehsatà:ke, part of Kaianera’kó:wa – People of the Longhouse of the Great Law of Peace. The Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawks) of Kanehsatà:ke, Keepers of the Eastern Door part of the Iroquois Confederacy, are once again obliged to demand that Canada cease and desist its fraudulent sale of our Kanien’kehá:ka Homelands. This demand is according to our obligation founded in our Constitution, known as Kaianera’kó:wa (The Great law) or Kaianera’shera’kó:wa – the Great Shining Peace.
Our laws and Constitution of Kaianera’kó:wa have survived colonization, and the Kanienke’há:ka Nation has never surrendered any of our Homelands to any foreign government government. As the original rights and treaty holders, we are defending our lands and our rights to our lands, to protect the land for present and future generations. Under Kaianera’kó:wa, it is the women who hold the title of the lands, and the titles of the Rotiianéhson (the Chiefs and Clan Mothers).
Kanehsatà:ke is the oldest community of the Kanien’kehá:ka as it existed pre-contact of Europeans arrival on the shores of the Americas. It was also the first community to accept Kaianera’kó:wa and is mentioned in the condolence rites of Chiefs and Clan Mothers. Our presence and use of our Homelands in Kanehsatà:ke has been for millennia and it includes Oka, Pointe-aux-Anglais, Pointe-Calumet, St. Joseph, Ste. Marthe, Deux-Montagnes and many other municipalities.
We would like to address the serious matters that affect our Confederacy Homelands which include the incessant desecrations, destruction and violations of the Kanien’kehá:ka Homelands in Kanehsatà:ke thus infringing upon our sovereignty. We demand a cessation and moratorium on all development, to the on-going collusion of land fraud between, Canada, Quebec with the inclusion of the Seminary of St. Sulpice. These illegal acts of land dispossession are founded in racist legal fictions, such as the Doctrine of Discovery which remain the root causes of the land dispossession throughout the Americas, and in particular of our precious Kanien’keháka Homelands in Kanehsatà:ke.
As we refer to these current fraudulent land sales we caution anyone who desires to purchase land in Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka Homelands or OKA and surrounding municipalities, of “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware” as this whole area remains Contested Lands.
Canada’s lack of action on the land standing historical issue in Kanehsatà:ke has instigated not only the persistent violation of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke’s fundamental human rights, but furthermore, has threatened our safety, our health and well-being and infringed upon our inherent rights to self-determination.
Multiple generations of Onkwehón:we (Indigenous peoples) have fought for justice to protect our homelands from settlers’ abuse, intimidation and the attempts of the physical elimination of the Kanien’keha:ka in Kanehsatà:ke. The impacts of Canada’s colonial laws persist causing the suppression and violation of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation’s inherent right to its sovereignty; this includes our Socio-Economic Rights, Cultural and language Rights, health and land rights; affecting the enjoyment of our rights to self-determination attempting to keep the people in a perpetual cycle of poverty.
Kanehsatà:ke has historically and remains today under constant threats by the authorities who conduct the corrupt work of government; we endure propaganda from certain biased researchers who promote skewed lies of history designed to continue land dispossession of our Homelands.
We caution the companies like that of Les Collines d’Oka of Mr. Grégoire Gollin, and Des Domaines des Ostreyers, Oka-sur-la-Montagne and other developments, from the sale or transfer of anymore disputed lands in Kanehsatà:ke. To continue to do so is land fraud.
The Government of Canada has neglected to uphold its Constitution Act, 1982, various Supreme Court decisions and its international human rights obligations that require all levels of government to uphold the honor of the Crown and consult with Indigenous peoples, especially serious matters affecting our rights. But furthermore, the Crown has “not only a moral duty, but a legal duty to negotiate in good faith to resolve land claims … The governing ethos is not one of competing interests but of reconciliation.”
In Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th ed., “reconciliation” is defined as: “Restoration of harmony between persons or things that had been in conflict”. With regard to Indigenous Peoples, such harmony cannot be achieved within a colonial framework. Rather, it must take place in a contemporary context that respects human rights, including Indigenous Laws such as Kaianera’kó:wa, and international human rights norms such as, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Reconciliation is about “healing relationships, building trust, and working out differences”. It is about redress and restitution, respect for human rights. Reconciliation means a genuine commitment to change, to honestly engage in re-conceptualizing relationships to create a future of peace, justice and renewed hope.
We the Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kaianera’kó:wa of Kanehsatà:ke demand that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fulfill his promise to make “Indigenous peoples his most important relationship” and intervene in the institutionalized racism that continues the 3 centuries old land dispute in Kanehsatà:ke.
The Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke, as according to our Constitution of Kaianera’kó:wa assert our rights to our Homelands and call upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervene in the land dispute in Kanehsatà:ke (OKA), and demand the following:
- No development will occur on Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka ancestral lands without the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke as per Kaianera’kó:wa (the Great Law of Peace), international human rights norms, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Cease and desist all illegal sales and development on the ancestral Homelands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke.
- The immediate cessation of all archeological digs in Parc national d’Oka and the return of all our cultural heritage/artefacts in their possession.
- The immediate repeal of Bill S-24 the Kanesatake Interim Land Management Act as it is incompatible with Kaianera’kó:wa – the Great Law of Peace, as it is contrary to numerous Supreme Court rulings; the Constitution Act, 1982, and international human rights norms, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; as S-24 requires “release” or “extinguishment” and/or suspension of the Kanien’kehá:ka Peoples’ rights to our Homelands.
- In regards to the so-called “ecological gift’ by speculator/developer Grégoire Gollin of “Les Collines d’Oka”, we respect his intent but since this too requires a release or extinguishment of our land rights and is subject to the federal laws under the Minister of the Environment: we cannot accept the colonial terms and conditions of Mr. Gollin’s intent, especially since his condition for his “gift” to the community of Kanehsatà:ke is to allow him to continue fraudulently selling more of our Lands.
- Urge Canada and Quebec to denounce the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius and to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be included as part of the framework to settle this long standing historical land dispute in Kanehsatà:ke.
- We demand restitution and reparations from Canada, the Seminary of St. Sulpice and Québec, for loss of our lands and demand protection of our Homelands from further development by third parties such as “Les Collines d’Oka”, “Domaines des Ostreyers, Oka-sur-le-Montagne, the Municipality of Oka, Parc national d’Oka, TransCanada, Gazoduc, Enbridge and others, since these are un-ceded lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka, under Kaianera’kó:wa and the Iroquois Confederacy (the status of “disputed Lands” is such that these lands can neither be bought nor sold).
- A moratorium on all development be put in place by the Government of Canada since it is responsible for the perpetuation of land fraud and resulting conflict. Canada’s silence, lack of action and negligence have caused undo stress, fear and worry to the community of Kanehsatà:ke, as our Traditional Homelands remain under constant threat of dispossession.
The Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke invite the Government of Canada to a meeting to be determined, to develop solutions to the centuries old land dispute on our Homelands. We call for an end to the discriminatory practices of Canada who persistently deny the Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke, and the opportunity to meet and discuss solutions to our long standing historical dispute, in an atmosphere of equality, and peace, and without any coercion that perpetuates this dispute.
Our Goal is to preserve, promote and protect Iethinisténha Ohóntsa – our Mother Earth, for the enjoyment of present and future generations. As Rotinonhseshà:ka peoples, a sovereign nation under Kaianera’kó:wa, we are obliged to ensure that we uphold this sacred right and obligation we have been entrusted with by our ancestors for present generations, and those yet to come.
Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke under Kaianera’kó:wa
Kanien’kehá:ka of the Iroquois Confederacy
Sean Carleton is a coordinating editor with Canadian Dimension.