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Letter to the Editor – Indian Time


Letter to the Editor – Indian Time

I wish to comment on the letters to the Editor regarding the estate and land of the late Matthew Elmer White on Kawehnoke. I know the family of Matthew Elmer White and am familiar with some of the issues surrounding his estate and land. I don’t really know Carol Garrow, but I do think that the estate and land belongs to the White Family.

I, too, lost my house and land due to do the workmanship of a previous MCA/AANDC employee in the Lands and Estate department. Or, to be more correct, the lack of properly administering their law in the “Duties of an Administrator of an Estate” as outlined by Indian Affairs. Despite the fact that I was a joint tenant in the housing loan which I had acquired, and despite the fact that the land was sold to me by the late Ernest Benedict, I lost my property and house regardless. This is as a result of the Lands and Estates clerk of the MCA not performing her job correctly and with due diligence. By the way, she conveniently no longer works there.

I have affidavits from the late Ernest Benedict, his wife and his son, that prove that I had purchased the land from him. When my mother and I were approved for a housing loan, the land was put in the band’s name, (then it was Iroquois of St. Regis), as per their Housing Loan regulation. The land would revert to my name once the housing loan was paid off. This document was registered with the Brantford District office where all Land Transfer documents go once they are processed here at MCA. BUT, there is another Land Transfer document that was processed but was not sent to Brantford District office. It was kept on file in-house with MCA. This confirms again that the land belonged to me, but the clerk decided to skip this step, for whatever reason. Perhaps because it was known how long it takes to get a Certificate of Possession (CP) back, so it was decided to do this only once. Sure it saved time, but it also created errors and grave disruption in the family. There is also a Band Council resolution (now known as MCR of Mohawk Council of Akwesasne), confirming that the housing loan was joint with my late mother and myself. When I learned that the land and house was given to my youngest brother, I approached MCA about it, and started an investigation. It was confirmed by MCA that the CP was issued in error to my youngest brother, so they processed and approved another MCR to rescind the approval of the CP to him. Sounds confusing but it really isn’t.

Well, my mother passed away on November 14th, 1996, and the loan was still active (it was not paid off). I would have continued paying on the loan once MCA contacted me and proper documentation was processed. This did not happen. Instead, they (MCA) wrote me a letter dated April 14, 1997, indicating that the loan was paid off because of the life insurance on my mother (and there was one on me as well), and that the same letter was being given to MCA Lands and Estate for their processing. My knowledge of how the government works, which is very, very slowly, I waited to be contacted by mail or phone, or something, so that we could get this settled. I was eventually informed by another family member that the estate of my late mother was given to my youngest brother.

In summary, I have documents from MCA departments of housing, from OVS, from a former Executive Director (at the time known as Chief Administrative Office), and even the lawyer of MCA, as well as the affidavits, all confirming that the house and land should be in my name. I was also offered a monetary settlement but I didn’t accept. The amount I was offered did not justify what has been taken from me. To this date the property remains vacant, and my house was torn down by contractors. I would like to share more of my issue with supporting facts to my statements made previous in this letter at the meeting on January 19th. I hope that other families of a similar issue will follow suit.

If MCA continues to make errors on our precious lands and families, and they refuse to help us resolve them, then it’s time that we take back what belongs to us. We shouldn’t sit ‘idle no more.’ We shouldn’t have to wait until someone bites the bullet (as one MCA Chief stated). Let’s get these resolved NOW and stop creating more errors.

MCA must step up to the plate, be accountable and responsible to all Akwesasne people for the errors and correct them. Help families now! I’ve waited 15 years and I don’t want to wait any longer.

Submitted by Laura Morris


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