Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

MCA March Monthly Meeting

Violence in Akwesasne, Recreational Marijuana and Land Claims Update

 


After following MCA’s regular opening protocol for the March monthly meeting, MCA started with Business from the Floor. Several members of the community expressed their concerns with ‘violence in our community’. With increasing severity and brutality, community members asked Council to ‘take a real serious look at this’. According to one community member in the last month alone, four serious assaults have been committed on community members. Community members also expressed their concern and frustration stating, ‘some of these crimes are being committed by people who are not members of this community - rapes, beating, how many people does he have to hurt?’

Another community member stated, “We expect you as Council to protect the community. I’m asking you to do that.”

Grand Chief Abram Benedict thanked her for her concern and expressed that he takes this very seriously and he along with other members of Council, are meeting with the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Commission to address this.

District Chief Vince Thompson added, ‘Because of the severity and seriousness of this, this is part of an ongoing dialogue with the Chief of Police.’

Community members also expressed their concern over a letter that has been circulating and its authenticity. According to the letter distributed at the meeting, the letter is signed by Tadadaho (Sidney Hill) but is without a standard letterhead, date or actual signature.

GC Benedict stated he hasn’t been approached officially and will speak to each council.

Community members questioned the Akwesasne Election Law and right to vote for Akwesasne members who by choice or need reside outside of Akwesasne. GC Benedict expressed this issue (non-resident/MCA registered members not being allowed to vote in MCA election) is not included in the proposed amendment. And the last process ‘didn’t find it important and the intent is to have a more wholesome process capturing more’ of the issues for Akwesasne.

A community resident questioned District Chief Dennis Chaussi as being quoted as saying Kawehnoke residents ‘are being sacrificed.’ Chaussi steadfastly denied this claim, as a video recording of the meeting, Council members present at the meeting and minutes of the meeting would attest to his actual words.

A community member questioned how the Akwesasne Community Trust Overseers decide on proposals and find almost all monies are granted back to MCA programs and projects. The community member questioned the fairness of this. GC Benedict expressed Council will ‘look at the handbook and check on this.’

District Chief Chaussi stated he, ‘would give my word to work on this’

Three presentations were made: Entewatathá:wi, the Political Service Agreement, and an update on the Seaway and Dundee Land Claims.

Peter Garrow reviewed the work of Entewatathá:wi “We Will Govern”. Garrow reviewed Entewatathá:wi’s Community Engagement process is to inform and continue to constantly and consistently present to the community of Akwesasne the process, procedures and progress of nation building – to gain control of self governing. Today, the Indian Act controls 71% of Akwesasne, and Akwesasne controls only 29%. After Akwesasne gains back control the percentage would fundamentally reverse. The Canadian Government has powers over our land and resources, people and governance. Akwesasne has taken back control of the Akwesasne membership Code and Akwesasne Election Law.

Entewatathá:wi is offering Family Information Sessions – for community members to gain a better understanding about the Self-Government process. They are offering to join you, your family and friends to provide you with information on what Entewatathá:wi does. As well, Entewatathá:wi is offering Lunch and Learn, joining your program/service during your lunch break to provide you, your co-workers and friends with information. Contact Entewatathá:wi at 613 575 2341 ext. 3193 or email their offices at cheavee.willie@akwesasne.ca or erin.cole@akwesasne.ca to set up a learning session.

Executive Director Jordan Wapass and GSM Chelsea Francis presented an overview of MCA’s proposed Political Service Agreement. The Political Service Agreement is an agreement between an elected Council Member (Chief) and MCA. It is proposed to be a replacement document for the MCA’s Working Conditions in regards to a Council Member’s expected duties, responsibilities, professional behavior, work hours, monetary compensation.

The last, and third in a series community engagement sessions for the Political Service Agreement will be held on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at the Tri-District Elders Lodge in Kawehnoke, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the evening.

Council presented an update on the Seaway and Dundee Land claims – for more information on this presentation or on the Seaway and Dundee Land Claims in general, please contact Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’ Aboriginal Rights and Research Office at 613-575-2348 ext. 2206.

The MCA Cannabis Working Group is currently holding a survey. They strongly encourage all members of Akwesasne to complete this survey to let their voice be heard.

A community member stated – ‘we need a plebiscite, not a survey on this issue.’ Medical cannabis (recommended by doctors for their patients to alleviate the symptoms of certain conditions and diseases) was legalized in Canada in 2001. Recreational cannabis (marijuana used for enjoyment without medical justification) is going to be legalized in July 2018 in Canada.

In July 2018, it may well be within your right to carry recreational marijuana.

 

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