Montreal Canadiens Habs land acknowledgment Montreal

Legault government wants the Habs to edit their land acknowledgment

Historians dispute whether the Mohawk or Saint Lawrence Iroquois should be recognized.

Quebec politicians and pundits have been questioning and criticizing the decision on the part of the Montreal Canadiens to include a land acknowledgment of Mohawk territory as part of their pre-game introductions at the Bell Centre.

The message, which appears on the jumbotron over the ice and is read by Habs announcer Michel Lacroix, is as follows:

“The Montreal Canadiens wish to recognize the Kanien’keha: ka, also known as the Mohawk Nation, for their hospitality on the traditional and unceded territory where we are gathered today.”

Today, Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière told reporters that the Habs’ land acknowledgment should be edited to read “Indigenous” rather than specifically Mohawk.

“It’s a decision by the Habs. It’s important to recognize that the First Nations were here before us and that we live together, but now we’re getting into a debate between historians who don’t agree, so maybe it was a mistake. Specifically for Montreal, we do not agree at the historical level on who was there first — that’s where it’s complicated.”

Ian Lafrenière

Historians are split on whether Montreal is in fact unceded Mohawk territory, or the Saint Lawrence Iroquois have a stronger claim to the land, having been here first according to Jacques Cartier. There is a theory that by the time Samuel de Champlain arrived, the Iroquois community that was no longer in the valley, as observed earlier by Cartier, had been absorbed into the neighbouring Mohawk community. One controversial theory posits that the lack of a community on Champlain’s arrival means that no First Nation should be formally associated with the land.

The Groupe CH, which represents the Montreal Canadiens, reportedly told the Journal de Montréal yesterday that they are consulting experts to validate the land acknowledgment and would consider “clarifying the recognition” if need be.

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