Mohawk land back camp set up to stop 290-unit housing development in Montreal suburb
On July 8, the Canadian Press reported: “Kahnawake Mohawks set up the encampment beside their community on July 1 in a wooded area bordering the municipality of Chateauguay, Que., on Montreal’s south shore.”
That article adds: “Chateauguay city council adopted a zoning change in the area on March 15, clearing the way for the construction of 290 homes on the land.”
This statement from the three clan chiefs says:
“The Kanien’kehá:ka Nation at Kahnawà:ke is opposed to this project as it further usurps lands that rightfully belong to Kahnawà:ke. [We caution] all surrounding municipalities that development in the larger territory of Kahnawake is being monitored by the Longhouse and can be the target of a campaign to stop development in the interest of environmental protection and as an act of self-determination to protect our territorial integrity.”
Camp spokesperson Kahnawakero:non Karihwakatste Deer says: “We felt like July 1 was an appropriate day for us to make an encampment there because of the connection between the residential schools, with them taking our language and culture and land.”
Turtle Clan mother Kaherihshon Fran Beauvais says: “We matter, and we’re going to stop this. It is our land. These are our children. We didn’t give it, we’re keeping it.” And Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer says: “It’s about getting our lands back. This is for us the perfect chance to get our land back because it hasn’t been developed yet.”
There have been at least two other significant land defence struggles against housing developments on Mohawk lands:
The Kanien’kehá:ka of Kanesatake once occupied 689 square kilometres, now they have about 12 square kilometres.
In 2004, private developer Gregoire Gollin purchased 220 hectares of land near the Village of Oka, about 60 kilometres east of Montreal.
Ellen Gabriel and other community members have opposed the Domaine des Collines d’Oka housing development since 2017 when construction began there.
Gabriel told the mayor of Oka at that time, “See all this land? This is Kanesatake. It doesn’t belong to Oka, it belongs to the (Mohawk) people of Kanesatake. We’re not going to allow you to build any more homes on our land.”
On July 19, 2020, Haudenosaunee land defenders began a reoccupation of a 25-acre area of land in Caledonia, about 90 kilometres southwest of Toronto.
Foxgate Developments planned to build at least 218 houses on this land. The Haudenosaunee asserted it was their territory through the Haldimand Treaty of 1784 that granted them an area of 950,000 acres in southern Ontario. Today, the Six Nations reserve boundaries is less than five per cent of the original land base.
On July 2 of this year, after 350 days, 38 arrests, and more than $16.3 million spent on policing, the land defenders stopped the development on their territory.