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Mohawk Council repulsed by Quebec’s stance on Habs land acknowledgment

“Although Quebec’s comments do not come as a surprise, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is repulsed by Quebec’s attempt to politicize a genuine reconciliatory action on the part of a sports club.”

On Thursday the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) responded to the Quebec government’s comments this week regarding the pre-game land acknowledgment instated by the Montreal Canadiens. The MCK commended the Habs, calling the team’s move to recognize their presence on Mohawk territory “an example of true reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous Peoples.”

The statement noted the MCK’s “displeasure” with comments made by Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafreniere, who said that the Habs’ decision “may have been a mistake.” He suggested that the land acknowledgment could be edited to read “Indigenous” rather than specifically Mohawk as there is supposedly some question about which community should rightly be recognized. 

“Although Quebec’s comments do not come as a surprise, the MCK is repulsed by Quebec’s attempt to politicize a genuine reconciliatory action on the part of a sports club, which undermines Kanien’kehá:ka (specifically) presence in the traditional territory of the Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) region.

The MCK also commented on the media’s role in this week’s manufactured controversy.

“The school yard tactics of utilizing media to advance political agendas must come to an end. The MCK believes in working collaboratively with external governments to ensure the interests of each respective party are represented responsibly. Yet, true reconciliation can only occur when both parties are willing to create an open dialogue towards building authentic relationships.

“Respectively, the MCK continues to extend an open offer to Quebec officials, and any other non-Indigenous group to work with Kahnawà:ke in educating themselves on the history of Indigenous Peoples, from an Indigenous perspective.”

—Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

There has been some debate in traditional and social media this week about whether land acknowledgments are actually meaningful, or necessary — mostly byy white commentators and pundits, with some exceptions. In the MCK statement, Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer spoke about the importance of land, and about commentary that serves to discredit Indigenous Peoples.

“When we talk about land, it is an essential part of who we are as Kanien’kehá:ka. It holds the knowledge of our ancestors, our history, and our presence now and for the future. Opinionated commentary that challenge and discredit our presence are not only insulting, they are taken as displaced attacks on our existence.”

—Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer

To read the complete statement from the MCK, please visit the Kahnawake website.

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