KANESATAKE, QC, Jan. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The litigation related to the land claim of the Seigneury of Lake of Two-Mountains has been rekindled by last week's events, when land developers of Norfolk initiated work on an area of land situated in the heart of traditional Mohawk territory. "We do not want a second Oka crisis; we want this matter resolved as it should, that is to say, by negotiating a formal agreement under the Memorandum of understanding of 1994 and the 1991 Agenda for Negociations. I trust that government officials have learned from the 1990 crisis and that, 20 years later, we can settle our differences once and for all, so that such events no longer occur", said Mohawk Council Grand Chief of Kanesatake, Sohenrise Paul Nicholas.
The land on which the Norfolk Company plans to build housing is part of the Seigneury of Lake of Two-Mountains, a territory to which the Mohawks of Kanesatake hold title and aboriginal rights, protected by the Canadian Constitution, the Treaty of Oswegatchie, the Treaty of Paris and the 1763 Royal Proclamation. However, the real estate development project was initiated without any consultation with the Mohawk community, contrary to the Canadian jurisprudence: Governments have an obligation to consult and accommodate any aboriginal group whose rights could potentially be affected by such projects.
The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, therefore, requests that work be stopped and asks that Canada invites the government of Quebec to the negotiating table in accordance with Section 2.4 of the 1994 agreement.
Furthermore, it is clear that section 2.2 of the 1994 agreement and section 3.1 c) i) 1, (interim arrangement 1 and long term arrangement 2) of the 1991 agreement mandates Canada to continue the federal purchase of third party interests in the "Commons" Lands to consolidate a territorial land base for the Mohawks of Kanesatake. Therefore, we request that the lands now for sale by Norfolk Financial be purchased by Canada immediately to become reserved lands for Kanesatake within the meaning of subsection 91 (24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.
After the events of the summer of 1990, the government of Canada agreed to negotiate the land claim of the Mohawks of Kanesatake but, in 2006, it unilaterally terminated the negotiation process. Since then, the government has refused to reopen negotiations based on the Mohawks' existing territorial rights and, instead, has offered a process that does not correspond to the Treaty rights involved (the specific claim policy).
In a letter, sent to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Chuck Strahl, Grand Chief Nicholas said, "We await your official nomination of a Chief Federal Negotiator so we can review the true historical evidence - from each side - on this matter and come up with a correct historical understanding of our claim to the Seigneury of Lake of Two-Mountains".
The position of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, based on legitimate and legal arguments, justifies a refusal to acquiesce to a real estate project on land that the community has been claiming for over 300 years. In addition, the Chiefs are concerned about a rehab center, catering to natives from around Quebec, which is adjacent to the land the Norfolk wishes to develop. "Residents of this property have been secluded so they can heal in a calm and restful place. These people are already balancing on the edge of society. A real estate development in this area is clearly unsuited with the likes of such places", said Chief Gordon Oke.
The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, whose position is clear, offers solutions and calls for the governments of Canada and Quebec to sit with the Chiefs at the same negotiation table. "Be assured of our good faith and our commitment to resolve this exceedingly longstanding claim, of the Mohawks of Kanesatake with the government of Canada, on principles of good faith, truth, and equality. A government's inaction is certainly not the best option", concluded Grand Chief Nicholas.
SOURCE MOHAWK COUNCIL OF KANESATAKE
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