As the month of March is coming to an end, the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) is only a few days away from calling a general election.
According to the latest 2015 custom electoral code, the MCK mandate expires four years after the last general election. Following this code, the MCK has now only a few days to table the upcoming elections during a meeting, with the adoption of a band council resolution.
“It’s not dissolving council, it’s calling an election,” said Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon. “Because the council still needs to uphold its obligations, the chiefs are collecting their salary until the election, so might as well make them work!”
The MCK is currently composed of the grand chief, along with vice-chief Patricia Meilleur and chiefs Valerie Bonspille, Bruce Montour, Victor Bonspille, John Canatonquin and Garry Carbonnell. The electoral campaign will go on for the next three months once the MCK moves forward with the resolution - until election day, which falls on the first Saturday of June. In the meantime, the MCK is restricted in its dealings with other forms of government.
“You still continue on with the negotiations you are in until election day, you just cannot sign any agreement during that time,” said Simon. At this point in time, no chiefs have expressed any intentions of whether or not they plan on running again, or even compete for the position of grand chief. According to the custom electoral code, only Kanehsata’kehró:non who completed a full year as one of the MCK chiefs can run for the position of Kanesatake grand chief.
Simon, who’s been grand chief for the past 10 years, explained that he sees the upcoming election as either a chance for him to continue working on progress for the community, or to have some closure.
“I’ll have no regrets and I’ll be able to move on,” said Simon. “I’ll have peace of mind that I did everything I could. In the end, it just comes down to the people making that choice, whether they want to start from scratch again and possibly lose some of the progress that we’ve done, or keep building on it.”
When pondering whether he will run again, Simon doesn’t hide that the last few years have taken a toll on him - especially this last one. Looking back at the four past years, Simon didn’t hesitate when he said that, while all challenges were at the same level of importance, the biggest struggle faced by the MCK was the current pandemic.
“Ten years of constant struggling upriver,” he said. “I think it might be time to just let go and let yourself go with the river. You’ll land where you land, where the current takes you.”
Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door