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Day schools, S3 and Tioweró:ton on the docket

After discussing and introducing the S-3 defence coalition, Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer praised the community members that attended the meeting and started to take a stance against the newly enacted bill. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

Beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, the annual spring community meeting saw less than 10 community members show up, excluding the individuals for the land allotments and media. 

The meeting began with an opening from Mohawk Council of Kahnawake chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, then transitioned to land allotments, then continued to the topic of the Indian Day School Class Action lawsuit.

Canada’s Indian Affairs department operated the day schools. In Kahnawake, there were a total of 11 day schools, which has affected many residents of the community.

“We are looking to have more information in the next couple of weeks as we are meeting tomorrow on how to plan on getting the community informed about this matter,” said Norton. 

“We realized that this spans 120 years, (and) a lot of people will be affected by this, and we want to make sure the individuals who were affected by this have the proper information.” 

Norton then pointed out that they have plans to work with Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS) for support. 

“It’s been busy for the past few weeks,” said KSCS support worker Tom Dearhouse. “I’ve been getting phone calls two-three times a day from elders who have experienced trauma. As the court hearing dates approached, we started planning information sessions and we are thinking of doing some talking or sharing circle for the victims.”

Norton traveled to Winnipeg and testified at the hearings, and explained his experience.

“It was chaos; there were three busloads of people that came in the hearing room,” said Norton. “It was as big as the Golden Age Club room, and people couldn’t get in.

“People were jamming the place; it was full of lawyers who were for and against the process. Most made presentations on their clients, and some people spoke about their experiences. It was sad. It wasn’t a nice thing to see, but it was an experience to know that we weren’t the only ones who went through this.”

While attending the hearing, an announcement was made by Crown-Indigenous Services and Northern Affairs Canada that they’re going to expand the claim period to two years. 

“I believe it’s going to be longer than that, just from the objections,” said Norton. “The judge has to balance off from his point of view that everyone wants a settlement. I don’t know how long it’s going to take but if we think there’s a quick settlement coming, it’s not going to happen, it’s going to take time but it will happen.”

The next topic discussed at the meeting was the S-3 amendments to the Indian Act, and the newly developed local S-3 defence coalition.

“We have requested community members to come and help organize the defence coalition, and we have had 20 people now who have been attending meetings regularly,” said Sky-Deer.

“What we’ve done was to ask community members to fill out a survey, and we compiled all of the data and presented that to the coalition and to develop a shared community declaration. We don’t want this to be MCK, as this affects the entire community so we thought it would be necessary to have a grassroots group of elders and youth and to let the ball roll in their hands.” 

Joann Patton and Dale Deom spoke about aiding in the creation of a declaration to fight S-3. 

“We are going to try and see how many people we can see to support it,” said Patton. “We already have a lot of people supporting, but they are not here, why don’t they show up?”

The group has been advertising their initiatives and motives at kiosks at the Kahnawake Service Complex and meetings; the next of which is Wednesday night.

“We’re trying to get more people to attend, and I was shocked to see the low attendance at the meeting,” said Patton. 

The letter also explained how Canada had adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and how S-3 violates several laws, according to the coalition. 

Council chief Gina Deer then discussed issues related to Tioweró:ton.

“There’s a growing concern with the events going on in the territory,” she said. “We all hear about the breaking and entering, but last year we had issues with domestic violence, child endangerment, drinking and driving, suicide attempts, ATV accidents, and death.” 

Deer added that the caretakers have a lack of training to handle the specific problems ranging from health issues to trespassing to fights.  

“We are hoping some of the people will respect the policy, and it’s being worked on to try and put something in place for the safety, respect and the traditional values there,” said Deer. “There’s a lot of info that needs to be given out, and we need to have some conservation there.

“Although the Peacekeepers are an hour away, that is something individuals will have to deal with as they are still finding ways to have a representative at the main house.”

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