Kanesatake man looks out for local safety

·3 min read

When Shawna Etienne recently came across a callout from Kane Montour offering free video doorbells, she decided to ask for one.

“Since I’m single and alone, I figured it would be a major help to my anxiety,” she said.

She believes personal security is an issue in Kanesatake and that the doorbell could help screen unwanted visitors while preventing people from causing mischief in her yard.

“Kane has his community’s best interests and safety at heart,” she said.

Montour has received dozens of requests for the doorbells, which he has been purchasing with his own money.

At first, he bought a load of cheap ones online, but he discovered they required paid subscriptions and were of dubious quality.

“The idea is to capture good resolution (images) of uninvited trespassers, not a bunch of grainy bigfoot pictures,” he said.

He has since ordered 20 better ones, which cost about $125 each. The doorbell cameras can be linked to a person’s cell phone or television to help them monitor and record who comes to their doorstep.

Montour was inspired by his work with Kanesatake Perimeter Security (KPS), which grew out of COVID-19 checkpoints to serve as an ad hoc emergency response team within the community. He finishes his patrol at 11 p.m., but after taking an hourlong break at home, he tends to go back out until around 5 a.m.

“If there’s ever anything where somebody’s where they’re not supposed to be or trespassing, or if one of the elders are scared, they can call me,” he said.

It was through these calls that he began taking note of people who might be interested in a doorbell system.

Montour said security threats can come from both inside and outside the community. Shops in town attract people who sometimes linger. Meanwhile, there have been instances of break-ins that victims choose not to pursue, at least once out of compassion for a local who suffers from an addiction, he said.

“We don’t have police here,” Montour said. “Recently, there have been a lot of break-ins, and there’s stuff we hear about, and there’s also stuff we don’t hear about.”

According to Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) chief Brant Etienne, whose portfolios include justice and policing, the most recent security scare was a false alarm - a pizza delivery worker who got lost.

Earlier this year, however, an unknown person aroused suspicion and was not found.

“With the increased traffic in the community, there does seem to be an increased amount of non-residents hanging around and kind of treating the area like their own or something to exploit,” he said.

He credits KPS with helping to monitor potential security concerns. “There was a robbery attempt last year that was interrupted by the security team,” he said. “It could have gone fairly badly, but it was prevented.”

Home invasions, while rare, have occurred previously in the community, according to the chief. He believes Kanesatake may eventually move to its own policing or peacekeeping system depending on funding and community preferences.

“We generally know that the community wants something that can deal with the issues we’re facing; it’s just, what does that look like?” he said.

In the meantime, he is unequivocal in his praise for Montour’s initiative.

“It’s great,” he said. “I wish more people would take the safety and wellbeing of their community members to heart the same way he has.”

“I find it really generous and really nice and caring,” said Dawn Oke, who received a doorbell from Kane this week.

The single mother, who recently heard a story about a stranger poking around an elder’s property, feels a little safer with the device.

“If somebody’s looking around your property, it’s alarming to see,” she said.

“(The doorbell) will put people’s minds at ease and make elders and single mothers feel comfortable in their environment, in their home,” she said.

gmbankuti@gmail.com

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

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