Meeting aims to resolve internal conflicts of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake
A community meeting called by the population was held last Thursday evening in Kanesatake, in response to the fact that the majority of council chiefs had not attended the previous meeting.
“This meeting was called by you guys, not me and not the Council. This meeting was called because at last week’s meeting, the heads of the Council were not present. They refused to come forward to answer questions and address what was on the agenda,” said Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) Grand Chief Victor Bonspille.
Since the meeting was community driven, the Kanehsata’kehró:non had the opportunity to question their elected representatives about ongoing internal issues and the recent conduct of the chiefs.
One by one, the leaders had to explain why they weren’t showing up.
MCK Chief Amy Beauvais rose first and explained that she was unable to attend due to an illness which was confirmed by a doctor’s note according to the Grand Chief.
Denise David said she couldn’t come because she was helping a community member at her home.
Both chiefs John Canatonquin and Brant Etienne said the meeting the grand chief called to discuss portfolio changes he recently made to chastise Etienne and Canatonquin for their role in handing out relief money to businesses COVID-19, was just too short.
“We need more time to prepare everything,” said Etienne.
Although Bonspille acknowledged that the notice was short, he pointed to the fact that about 40 community members were present.
“For me, it’s blatant disrespect or just plain stupidity,” Bonspille said. A few community members agreed with the Grand Chief and criticized the chiefs for not showing up.
The agenda then turned to Chief Etienne’s alleged breach of confidentiality for making the Zoom link of the April 12 community meeting public without first seeking consent from the community and the Council.
“It’s nobody’s business but ours what we say in these meetings,” said a community member who demanded an explanation from Etienne.
Bonspille said he wants the community to discuss an appropriate reprimand because there is still no formal code of ethics for chefs.
“It means they go wild. People do what they want without consequence,” the big boss said.
However, not everyone agreed with the Grand Chief’s position on the matter, with one community member asking what was the purpose of the Council absenteeism discussion.
“Are we seeking to punish? Shame? What do we want from this? »
“Does a leader have the power to make a decision on something even if the other leaders don’t agree? The way things work, no, quorum rules. Is it good or not?” Chief Etienne asked the community.
Shelley Simon, the meeting moderator, then asked community members if they had any ideas or solutions regarding these two agenda items.
“I’m sick of it, and I also asked before it happened to the community that we fix it internally. But it’s brought to the community because they don’t want to settle in the internal,” said Chef David.
“The ones who suffer are the employees who are in the office because they hear it. This code of conduct must first be passed through you to us. I try to get along with everyone, but I got it.
David pointed out that if a solution is not found, this Council will eventually be removed from office.
“Start doing your work!” We elected you and we will remove you,” a community member said, giving credence to David’s statement.
Chief Beauvais said a possible solution that could help resolve some of the internal issues was to have a by-election and fill the currently vacant seat.
” We are going in circles ! Decide on something, then you (the Council) bring it to us, and we’ll let you know if we’re okay with it,” another community member replied.
The community continued to plead with their leaders to build consensus and put the community first. They asked for a verbal commitment from the Board to work through their problems.
Then someone in the crowd suggested a mediator to help the Council overcome its internal problems. Etienne, Bonspille and David said they would have no problem with a mediator.
And although not on the agenda, Bill 96 was also discussed at the request of Chief Beauvais. “We are only six chiefs, and it takes a community to champion a cause. Bill 96 will affect several departments and several sections of our community and the future of our children. They will be limited in their choices in the future if we don’t do anything about it,” she said.
Beauvais pointed out that the bill would not only have major repercussions on education but also on businesses and access to essential services such as health care.
“If your French isn’t excellent, you’ll have a hard time moving on if it becomes law. I am worried for the safety of my family, especially the elderly in my family,” added Chief Etienne.
“If they have to go to Saint-Eustache, according to the law, they will have to be served in French. All of their medication instructions will be in French. There will be no obligation on the part of any of the institutions to serve us in English.
Beauvais said the community must act now. The Grand Chief, however, pointed out that this was not a problem specific to Kanesatake and that it should be dealt with by all First Nations in Quebec.
“I can say that for Bill 96 – yes, I am very opposed to it. I met in Montreal last week with the AFNQL (Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador) and we discussed Bill 96. And all of us – all the nations involved in the AFNQL, we signed an agreement to oppose the bill.
“We are moving forward with this. We know that, and neither does Kanesatake, and neither does this Council. But we do it as a whole, like all First Nations. Not just the Mohawk Nation. It will be all nations that will fight against this,” Bonspille said.
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