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Shé:kon sewakwekon! During the last month, as we waited for the monthly public meeting that was not to be, we witnessed the ongoing saga between two individuals, Serge Otsi Simon and Oka mayor Pascal Quevillon. It became a media spectacle because they were using key words that the mainstream media would capitalize on to boost their ratings. Keywords such as “crisis” and “Indigenous conflict”, all their reports enhanced with footage from the summer of 1990 or articles with famous photographs. This is nothing new but under all the layers of this media circus lies true issues that we should be looking at in Kanehsatàke. Issues for which pertinent questions have been asked, time and time again by Kanehsatàkero:non to the current administration of the MCK but that have gone unanswered to have been deflected.

Before I go over certain important issues yet again, let us look at this current situation that to me raises even further questions… First is: “Why is the MCK so concerned about Mayor Pascal Quevillon?” Does he hold such an important status in relation to our matters that the administrators of our affairs have to dedicate a large portion of their efforts to dealing with his behavior and comments? After he apologized, “grand chief” Simon posted a video on Facebook where he talked about how they were able to “force” his apology, because let us be cleared, it was forced and this was confirmed by Mayor Quevillon at the municipal public meeting held on September 3 2019. In that same Facebook address, Serge Simon said that because of this “forced apology”, they were able to avert a “crisis” or “armed conflict”. On this comment, I paused, armed conflict? Perhaps I am living in a different Kanehsatàke? Throughout this entire debacle, I and all those I interact with have never felt a climate of rising or imminent crisis… Unless members of the MCK were planning to take up arms??? It seems that the only Kanehsatàkero:non feeding the media fueled frenzy reporting a potential crisis was the MCK.

Now, lets take a minute to discuss the “oh so important and necessary” apology form Mayor Quevillon which was qualified on the MCK Facebook as “sincere”.  Watch this video from minute 18 to 22. We hear in this video, Mayor Quevillon explaining that he was forced to apologize. He clearly states that “grand chief Simon” assembled a group of chiefs that were ready to walk out if he did not apologize. Mayor Quevillon said that ” he too could have assembled a group of mayors to boycott the event but that he decided not to play that game…”. He said in the end that he and “grand chief” Simon have a common goal of “restoring order” in Kanehsatàke. To achieve this common goal, he decided to put his differences aside and make an apology. One is left to wonder what standard of order will be used to restore Kanehsatàke? Will the standard be what the Mayor of Oka feels is acceptable for Kanehsatakero:non to do? Will it be whatever the MCK arbitrarily decide?As the video continues, Mayor Quevillon says that once the order is restored in our community then we can start working on common economic development and provides a quite colorful example. He states that during the summers they often get French tourists at the information center asking to see Tipis and went on to say “Well we will build Tipis if need be!”  But let us be clear, order must be restored before these tipis can be built…

I want to be clear here, I am not spending time on the Mayor’s comments because I feel we need to waste anymore time losing sleep over him. I want to illustrate that like minded individuals make up a large part of the settler population and if we keep spending time and effort working at changing their minds or getting them to apologize, we are losing focus on what is truly important: Handling our own matters, empowering our people and our youth in order to work together for positive growth. We keep spending time talking about reconciliation and harmonious development. I agree, lI welcome reconciliation which is defined as either restoring friendly relations or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another. We have not wronged the settlers for the last 500 years, atrocities have been committed against us. Reconciliation needs to be achieved through THEIR efforts!!! We have been trying and forced to make our beliefs and views compatible with theirs for centuries in order to live in peace… Let us now concentrate our efforts on working to restore our own order as it relates to the business of Kanehsatàkero:non. Let’s do this on our terms and to our collective benefit because the settler’s definition of harmonious development is whatever they deem appropriate for us to do! Their version of reconciliation and harmony is not about righting past wrongs but rather assimilation wearing a cheap disguise…

Let’s keep the discussion and dialogue going to promote change!

Nia:wen kola tá:non skennen!

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