Sterling Deer has negotiated with governmental types at all levels in his role as a construction and contracting entrepreneur in the community, and now, he thinks it’s time to apply his leadership skills
“I didn’t pop up and say, ‘hey, I’m a politician,’” he said.
It was only after many years as an entrepreneur and developing his leadership skills that he threw his hat in the ring as one of the five candidates running for Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake when residents go to the polls Saturday.
“After years of negotiating with the governments at the highest levels, I realized that this was something I could do. I thought, ‘hey, I’m good at this,’” he said.
Deer said the community has a lot of work to do in terms of intergovernmental affairs.
“Not so much the federal government, but the provincial government is always trying their little acts of oppression. They’re open-minded on some issues, but very hard on others,” he said.
Deer said Kahnawake is faced with taxation, addiction, housing and membership issues, adding that his long record of leadership in business and amateur sports in the community makes him the best person to lead the community as Grand Chief.
“Those issues need to be faced head-on, strong and loud and you have to be ready to deal with them as a leader. When you’re sitting there and dealing with stuff, you’re dealing with stuff for the community,” he said.
“I would say, vote for what you believe in. If you want a different perspective, a different way of seeing things, vote for me and for what I’m going to do for this community,” he said. “You make your choice based on what you carry and how you see it, but if you want different things, vote for me,” he said.
Deer added he would like to see the trend of children speaking Mohawk continue – and hoped to support further language-preservation efforts should he be elected Grand Chief.
“We’re all the same. I would encourage that. I would like, in some way, shape or form, to return to traditional things. I feel if we keep the pressure on to expand (use of Mohawk), it will come back more,” he said. “Speaking it. Going out in the community and speaking it. That’s very important to me. That’s who we are,” he said, adding Kahnawake needs to continue to assert its autonomy.
“Hey! We’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to get bigger and stronger,” as a community, he said.
Kahnawake residents will go to the polls Saturday to elect a new Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase