The false crisis of Oka created by the mayor
The Grand Chief of the Kanesatake Mohawk Council, Serge Otsi Simon, assures that there is no question of reliving a new crisis in Oka. In an open letter published on social networks Monday morning, he wants to calm the game by insisting that his community seeks only “peace and harmonious cohabitation”.
L has letter addressed to Quebecers is a response to recent media coverage concerning the will of a promoter to cede land to the Mohawks and the controversy raised by the reaction of the mayor of Oka.
“It seems to me necessary to make this statement publicly in the light of recent media coverage that tends to portray the current situation as a precursor to a new conflict similar to that experienced in 1990,” writes Simon.
To this assumption, he responds bluntly that for him: “There is no question of” Oka 2.0 Crisis “. However, “there is indeed a problem,” says the Grand Chief.
Recognizing that Aboriginal rights issues are complex and that some citizens may have difficulty understanding the importance of the process of repairing the mistakes of Canada’s colonial past, this does not justify all behaviors.
“Ignorance and ignorance do not justify inaction or racist statements,” wrote Serge Otsi Simon in his letter published in English and French on the Kanesatake Mohawk Council Facebook page.
On this point, he is directly targeting the mayor of Oka, Pascal Quevillon, whom he blames for using “a colonialist language” in his opposition to the surrender of land to Aboriginal people.
According to Mr. Simon, his community was traumatized and sustained deep injuries during the Oka Crisis. He believes that the mayor should understand that it is in everyone’s best interest not to seek confrontation by reviving old wounds.
The Canadian Press attempted to speak to Mayor Pascal Quevillon, but the latter refused to comment on the letter because he is on vacation with his family.
According to Serge Otsi Simon, the progress made in Ottawa’s relationship with Aboriginal people since the 1990s means there is no reason to relive an armed conflict.
The Grand Chief pointed out that several things have changed since 1990, citing various commissions organized by the federal government, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the establishment of a negotiating table with Ottawa.
Nevertheless, he blames the federal government for neglecting to resolve the impasse over the status of the Kanesatake territories. An issue that should have been settled for a long time, but still lingering.
For the leader of the Mohawk community of Kanesatake, the lack of knowledge of Quebecers about the reality and history of First Nations is part of the problem. He reports that French settlers and Mohawks planted the white pines of the hill together, around 1870, to hold back the sand that was being swept by the wind. “These are the trees of peace,” concludes Grand Chief Simon who wants us to learn the lessons of the past to avoid poisoning the debate.
Very good cohabitation
Citizens met by La Presse canadienne, in Oka, assure that there is no crisis in the eyes of the population. Some even go so far as to accuse Mayor Pascal Quevillon of trying to create an entire conflict that does not exist.
Paul Marinier has spent his entire life in Oka. The 68-year-old is not fond of the mayor and claims he “stops saying bullshit”.
“The Grand Chief apologizes and I fully agree with him,” said the retired trucker. Let him apologize, but he will not do it because our mayor is a narcissist. ”
According to Mr. Marinier, Mayor Pascal Quevillon uses the media to settle accounts and gain prestige.
“He’s talking about potty huts , but he starts by getting the drugs that are sold here every day before attacking the Aboriginals,” says the citizen, who says he’s juggling the idea of running for office. in the next municipal elections.
Tyler Francis is well positioned to take the pulse of both communities while he has residences in Oka and Kanesatake.
“The mayor talks as if there is going to be a new crisis, it looks like that’s what he wants. I have many friends here, there is no racism, no crap like that. It seems that the mayor is trying to launch something hoping that people will follow him, “says the 33-year-old man who works on the installation of steel structures in construction.
Regarding Mayor Quevillon’s comments on “cigarette shacks,” Tyler Francis points out that this has absolutely nothing to do with the lands that are undergoing the on-going retrocession process.
He explains that the cigarette outlets are all located along Highway 344 because cars pass directly by. “The lands we are talking about are in the woods!” He notes, insisting that no one wants conflict in both communities.
A third citizen met in Oka, Michel Tapp, also supports that cohabitation is very good for both communities. As a construction contractor, he does not believe in the argument of a loss of value of certain properties because of a return of land to the Mohawks.
“People were scared during the crisis, but everyone stayed here anyway. People have not lost their homes and the value has continued to rise, “says the man who owns a residence in Oka.
Last Friday, the Grand Chief of Kanesatake and the Mayor of Oka participated in separate meetings with Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Aboriginal Relations, and Quebec Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Sylvie D’Amours in Montreal.
The two men did not speak directly and Mr. Simon announced that he broke all communication with his vis-à-vis as long as he did not offer an apology for remarks deemed derogatory to the territory First Nations.
The debate between Oka and Kanesatake is about the project of the promoter Grégoire Gollin who wants to donate 60 hectares of the Oka pine forest to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.
Mayor Quevillon offended many in the Aboriginal community by expressing his fear of being landlocked by Kanesatake. He said the value of the properties would go down, raising fears of an increase in the number of cannabis and cigarette dealers.
On Friday, the elected official outlined a form of apology without acknowledging wrong, while he said he did not know which of the words he said could offend.