Kanesatake Resident Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Ongoing Colonial Land Fraud

Photo by Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC

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 gave Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada until the beginning of September to intervene in the 300-year long land dispute and to stop all illegal development in Kanehsatà:ke. Trudeau refused to meet. Meanwhile, development has continued. In response, on 11 October a Kanehsatà:ke resident has started a hunger strike to bring more attention to the government’s inaction and pressure for a short term moratorium on development so that meaningful negotiations can occur with the Rotinonhseshá:ka– People of the Longhouse.

Earlier this summer, Sean Carleton sat down with Ellen Gabriel to talk about the recent developments Kanehsatà:ke.

Canadian Dimension stands with the Kanien’kéha:ka (Mohawk) of Kanehsatà:ke and proudly publishes their full press release about the hunger strike below.


Kanehsatà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka Territory
Iroquois Confederacy Homelands


RE: Hunger Strike by Kanehsatà:ke Resident

October 11, 2019

Today marks the first day of a Hunger Strike by a Kanehsatà:ke resident in reaction to the demands made on August 21st, by the Rotinonhseshá:ka– People of the Longhouse. One of the key demands was for Prime Minister Trudeau place a short term moratorium on all land development on Kanien’kehá:ka Homelands in Kanehsatà:ke. The Kanien’kehá:ka People of the Longhouse also invited Prime Minister Trudeau to a sacred tobacco burning ceremony to renew our relationship with each other and recognize how precious Mother Earth and all our relations are. Our requests were ignored and development founded upon land fraud is bulldozing ahead without the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke, under Kaianera’kó:wa.

The Hunger Striker’s day began with a Sunrise Ceremony to protect and guide him as he takes on this this arduous journey; steps are being taken according to our tradition, to keep him safe and monitor him to ensure his health is not in danger.

He is doing this to bring to attention to our long standing historical land dispute which has been ignored by Canada for far too many centuries. Four years ago, the Liberals like all previous governments of Canada before them, deliberately ignored the requests by the Rotinonhseshá:ka to have a meeting to discuss the land dispute; to stop land fraud. PM Trudeau did so with discrimination and disrespect.

Still today, in spite of a public calls to respect Indigenous peoples human rights through such reports as the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s inquiry final report, all of which have called for a change in relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples; Canada remains silent, refuses to act to protect the rights of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke from “being molested by settlers”1; and condones the acts of land fraud on our Homelands

Prime Minister Trudeau has instead, chosen the status quo norm being the ritual practice of institutionalized racism, ignoring the land fraud taking place and dishonoring the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as per the Constitution Act, 1982; international human rights norms that defend and support Indigenous peoples rights to self-determination, and the Indigenous laws like that of Kaianera’kó:wa.

The longstanding historical land dispute which was the crux of the 1990 Kanehsatà:ke Siege or Oka Crisis has never been resolved. Therefore, as of Sunrise today, the Hunger Striker is giving of himself in support of the rights of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke to protect the land for present and future generations. A resolution to our land dispute must be in an atmosphere of peace in order to bridge the cavernous break in the relationship between Canada and Onkwehón:we (Indigenous) peoples.

We demand once again, for the Government of Canada to place a short term moratorium to halt all development on Kanien’kehá:ka Homelands and for PM Trudeau to meet with the Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke.

We invite all Canadians and Quebecois, in particular, the constituents of Justin Trudeau, and other political parties to learn more about the land dispute in Kanehsatà:ke through watching our LIVE Facebook feeds.

The Rotinonhseshá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke strive for a peaceful resolution to this issue that has plagued Kanehsatà:ke and other Indigenous peoples for far too long. Our Hunger Striker asks that everyone respect his space as this is a difficult and challenging undertaking.

We are all concerned for the health and safety of the Hunger Striker and ask the public to support the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanehsatà:ke demand for a Short Term moratorium on all development on our Homelands. For all inquiries on the details of the reason for this hunger strike please contact Ellen Gabriel through a future Facebook Event page TBA.

Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware of purchasing any land in Kanehsatà:ke/Oka and neighboring municipalities

Niá:wen tánon Skén:nen

Sean Carleton is a coordinating editor with Canadian Dimension.

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