Fear and loathing in Kanesatake
September 6, 2008 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Policing issues are complicated in the Mohawk community of Kanesatake, near Montréal, Québec - a firebombing last Sunday underscores tensions that have existed between the Mohawks and the Sûreté du Québec, Québec's police force. Police have been reluctant to patrol the region ever since then Grand Chief James Gabriel negotiated a controversial police deal with Ottawa in 2003 without consulting band council, resulting in a Mohawk blockade and Gabriel's exile to Montreal the following year. The Montreal Gazette says the Mohawk community wants the Sûreté du Québec to step up patrols. Some Mohawks believe Québec wants to overextend its reach. The Kanesatake have a strong independent streak and have come to blows with Québec before.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Here is the opinion piece from the Gazette that the fifth link should be.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:58 PM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you very much for this post. I've been really interested in this situation, and similar tensions on the US side.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:41 AM on September 7, 2008

Looking JUST at the policing and law-enforcement issues in Kanesatake is very narrow.

The Canadian government is decades behind in resolving issues with aboriginals. Despite some significant steps, such as compensation and apology for the issue of residential schools, there have been little progress in resolving the many outstanding issues around land disputes and unfulfilled treaty obligations.

The aboriginals, the non aboriginal residents of disputed areas, and the police forces are all victims of the federal government's neglect. They are forced to live with this mess daily.

Is it the same in the U.S., or have most treaty and land issues been resolved?
posted by Artful Codger at 10:42 AM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is it the same in the U.S., or have most treaty and land issues been resolved?

Indigenous people have not made the news in the US very often since AIM was in its heyday, apart from the occasional casino dispute. One thing that impressed me about the indigenous people in Canada was how much more politically active they are than in the States. Whether this is the case because the indigenous in the US are delighted with the state of affairs, I very much doubt. I'd be interested to examine what factors have led to this difference on either side of the border. Is it generally easier to petition the government in Canada than it is in the US, for example?

I agree that policing is but one of multiple aspects of the Kanesatake story. I knew many otherwise liberal-minded Quebecois who would say jaw-droppingly racist things about Mohawks, most of the time because of the Oka Crisis. At the same time, the in-fighting within the Kanesatake doesn't help much, either. It's a conflict far too complex to cover in a single post, but I'd be delighted if others could bring in some more aspects to the Kanesatake/Canadian relationship.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:48 PM on September 7, 2008

One complication is that the community of Kanesatake is not reserve land like the rest of Indian lands in Canada. It is instead governed under a complicated and unique piece of legislation called the Kanesatake Interim Land Base Governance Act. The history of the community is also complicated by the relationship with the Catholic Church and the government of France. What is happening there is a result of ancient agreements, duplicities and other political machinations dating back to the era of New France.

There's a lot more going on at Kanesatake than can be covered in a Metafilter post, but rest assured that the legislative and political context within which the community dwells is one of a kind.
posted by salishsea at 8:30 PM on September 7, 2008

Also, there is an interesting distillation of history of relations between Kanesatake and various European and Canadian governments in the preamble of the Senate version of the aforementioned Act.
posted by salishsea at 8:59 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sorry...just to be precise the link I just referenced is actually a legislative summary of the Senate Act.
posted by salishsea at 9:02 PM on September 7, 2008

Artful Dodger, Canada is at least making an attempt to deal with its aboriginal peoples, despite Mounties killing aboriginals in Manitoba and all.

Here...ignore them and they'll go away seems to be the official government policy.
posted by QIbHom at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2008

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