Kanesatake Mohawk Council to meet Tuesday

Tuesday’s weekly Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) meeting will be the first that MCK grand chief Victor Bonspille has recognized as legitimate since January 31.

However, he has said he is not worried about the length of the hiatus.

“I don’t have any concerns because this Council is dysfunctional, and there’s no trust in them, plain and simple,” said Bonspille, who acknowledged some files are on hold until a meeting can be duly convened.

“They’re going to move on when we continue our meetings,” he said.

There was no Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) session this week or last out of respect for a late community member and his family; Archie (Billy) Christopher Awenhrenton Gabriel died on March 3 at the age of 56.

Other recent meetings have also been cancelled because of deaths in the community.

“That’s our custom. That’s what we’ve been doing for decades,” said Bonspille, referring to a break of 10 days, which he says constitutes 10 business days.

Long-standing MCK chief John Canatonquin said the standard is 10 consecutive days, including weekends. However, while this week’s meeting would have taken place on the 11th consecutive day, Gabriel’s funeral took place the same day.

MCK chief Brant Etienne characterizes the recent cancellations as part of a pattern.

“My issue isn’t with this specific cancellation,” said Etienne. “My issue is that Victor uses any excuse to cancel meetings in order to avoid Council and the problems his actions are causing.”

A quorum of chiefs met without the grand chief for a weekly session on February 28 despite Bonspille declaring the session cancelled. The grand chief had cited his belief that Council was disrespecting the Custom Electoral Code by resisting the appeal board’s nullification of the January 21 by-election. He has since characterized the February 28 meeting as illegal.

“There’s just been a string of these things where there’s just been this same thing where Council doesn’t meet to exercise its duty,” Etienne said. “The weekly Council meeting is the only time when the authority of Council is exercised.”

According to Etienne, MCK chiefs have sought guidance on Council’s ability to hold meetings without the assent of the grand chief and have been assured by a lawyer that the Indian Band Council Procedure Regulations permit this.

Canatonquin similarly believes Bonspille is overstepping his authority.

“I’ve got letters from lawyers stating that he’s just a spokesperson and he’s part of the Council,” said Canatonquin.

“I don’t know if he’s on a power trip or what. I don’t know,” he said. “What matters is the Council rule.”

A general assembly has been called by Bonspille for March 23. The agenda relates to the Code of Conduct committee and includes presentations on the electoral code and other community matters.

“It’s an update for our community,” said Bonspille.

Etienne said he learned about the meeting by walking past a stack of hundreds of printouts at the office printer.

“He doesn’t bring any of that forward to us,” Etienne said.


Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door