A meeting between six Mohawk chiefs from Kanesatake and federal representatives ended April 3, with no apparent resolution.
The meeting was held in response to the roadblock protest that prevented all outside traffic from traveling into and through Kanesatake since March 28.
The protest was triggered by a policing deal agreed to by Mohawk representatives Grand Chief James Gabriel, Chief Marie Chene, Chief Clarence Simon and the federal government. Effectively leaving out in the cold the other three members of the band council. Chief Steven Bonspille, Chief John Harding and Chief Pearl Bonspille.
These members are not upset over the deal, they claim, but oppose the federal government’s insistence that it deal only with Gabriel rather than the whole band council. They had hoped that the federal Indian Affairs department would negotiate new agreements on land claims, security and local government at the same time as the policing contract, which came up for renewal March 31.
This dispute has been ongoing after Gabriel lost a “non-confidence vote” on the split band council 4-3 (it then had seven councilors; one has since died) two years ago. He brought the matter to the federal courts, which overturned the vote and reinstated him as Grand Chief.
The fact that federal officials invited all the chiefs to this meeting was significant enough progress for the protesting chiefs to order an end to the blockade.
What transpired has been limited to a press release issued by Chiefs Harding and Steven and Pearl Bonspille, which stated only that the federal government brought in its chief negotiator at the last minute without telling the other parties.
Harding says “such a move makes Canada untrustworthy.”
What else happened is not known as all Mohawk contingents and the government representatives agreed not to make any comments to the public. Another meeting is planned with federal officials.