Letter to Canada and All Crown Actors re: development on Traditional Kanehsatà:ke Territory

August 13, 2013

OPEN LETTER To: the Municipalité d’Oka and surrounding municipalities

RE:  Declaration of a Moratorium on  All Development in Oka, Parc Nationale d’Oka, and surrounding municipalities on the traditional territory of Kanehsatà:ke: including Enbridge Pipeline, Gazoduc, GDB Constrution, Archeological digs and all

To the Government of Canada and Québec and All Municipalities on the traditional Mohawk territory of Kanehsatà:ke

This letter is to remind all Crown Actors within Canada that the Kanien’kehà:ka Nation, of which the Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke are part of, have never sold nor ceded any of our lands and resources by treaty or by any forms of agreement to the Government of Canada, its provinces and municipalities.  For many years now the Longhouse people of Kanehsatà:ke have stated that they do not recognize the “Kanesatake Land Management Act” also known as Bill S-24 and therefore do not recognize any part of this agreement that may cede our rights to any part or parcel of our  traditional territory.

Therefore, it must be reiterated to Canada and all Crown Actors to Cease all development on the traditional Territory of Kanehsatà:ke and to stop the fraudulent sales of our lands and resources to third party interests.   The Mohawk people of Kanehsatà:ke have protested for years, the exceedingly large number of development on our traditional territory which has been conducted without the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Kanien’kehà:ke Nation.  No municipality has the authority to grant permits to any developers on traditional Kanien’kehà:ka – Mohawk Territory in Kanehsatà:ke which include the following areas:

1.       All of Kanehsatà:ke also known as Oka and the Oka Parrish

2.       Parc Nationale d’Oka/National Park of Oka

5.       Pointe-Calumet

6.       Pointe-aux-Anglais

7.       Ste. Marthe-sur-le-lac

8.       Lac des Deux-Montagnes

9.       St. Joseph du lac

10   Mirabel and others

Great advancements in the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous Peoples’ collective rights have been accomplished which include: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and many other international human rights law.  Consequently, all Municipalities on traditional Kanien’kehàka – Mohawk Territory, must adhere to their own rule of law, the Constitution Act of Canada, 1982 which under Section 35 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal peoples’ inherent and treaty right.  All Crown Actors of Canada, including the Federal, Provincial and municipal levels of government must legally uphold the Honour of the Crown and in the respect, protection and promotion of Indigenous peoples collective and individual rights.

Canada bases its sovereignty on 3 legal fictions meant to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands and resources.  These include the Doctrine of Discovery, the Doctrine of Terra Nullius, the Doctrine of Conquer.  These are the fallacies and foundations upon which all municipalities, especially the Municipalité d’Oka have defrauded the Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke and other Indigenous peoples of their lands and resources.

Doctrines of superiority have been declared by the UN as the following in the UNDRIP Preamble, Para. 4, which states the following:  “Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust,”

As a member state of the United Nations Canada and its provinces, territories and municipalities have legal obligations to uphold the UN Charter.  Canada  must uphold its legal obligation to promote and protect the human rights enshrined under international law, which includes treaties, conventions and indeed, declarations.

It behooves the Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke to inform you under our own Constitutional law of Kaianera’kó:wa – The Great Law of Peace, as well as under international and domestic law, that all permits granted to any third party for development or archeological digs, must obtain the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Mohawk people of Kanehsatà:ke before they can proceed. The Municipalité d’Oka does not have the authority to grant permits to developers like GDB Construction, Enbridge or any other corporations, including mining corporations like NIOCAN.

This fraudulent use of traditional Mohawk lands works against the promotion of a peaceful coexistence, disgraces the Honour of the Crown, as has caused the further dispossession of the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawks from our lands and resources.

Our intention is to promote the peace between our peoples; to protect our lands for present and future generations; and to remind Canada and its various levels of government, that development can only proceed under a peaceful, transparent and respectful relationship.   Our identity as Kanien’kehàka people is inextricably linked to our lands and under our own customary law of Kaianera’kó:wa, we must protect our lands, our peoples quality of life, and all our relations for present and future generations.

The community of Kanehsatà:ke existed long before the arrival of Europeans in North America and is the oldest Mohawk community in existence.  We have waited for centuries for justice which has been denied to us due to the illegal doctrines of superiority designed to dispossess us of our lands.  Instead the Kanien’kehà:ka – Mohawk people are confronted by coercive methods by Government and its authorities, justified under blatant institutionalized racism through the Indian Act.  We must put an end to “land claims” negotiations which requires all Indigenous nations to “extinguish” title to their lands and resources; allows third party interests to continue during negotiations and is founded solely on Canadian law,  policy and standards.

On July 11th of this year, we marked the 23rd anniversary of the “Oka Crisis, 1990” through a peaceful protest at Parc Nationale d’Oka, a place where our ancestors lived and occupied for many millenniums.  It is sad that after 23 years, the Mohawk people of Kanehsatà:ke are no closer to achieving justice to our long standing historical land rights grievances: a struggle has been going on for several centuries now and desperately requires some sort of peaceful resolution.

We must sit and discuss solutions based upon mutual respect, Kaianera’kó:wa – the Great Law of Peace, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  All future negotiations must be based upon these standards.

It is therefore important that all municipalities within the traditional territory of the Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke cease all development and agree to participate at a meeting  to discuss these urgent land rights matters at the earliest possible date.

Ellen Gabriel

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