Mohawk grand chief and Oka mayor shake hands after weeks of tension in land dispute

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon and Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon stood side-by-side today for the first time since tensions erupted between the two communities in July over a centuries-old land dispute.

The leaders told reporters they have put their differences behind them.

Quevillon and Simon shook hands during a summit between First Nations leaders and mayors taking place on the territory of the Huron-Wendat Nation, north of Quebec City.

Simon had cut off all contact with Quevillon in late July after the mayor refused to apologize for derogatory comments about the First Nation’s territory west of Montreal.

Tensions had flared after a local developer offered to donate disputed land to the Kanesatake Mohawk Council and Quevillon raised concerns about becoming encircled by Indigenous people and declining property values in his town.

For weeks, the mayor had refused to apologize for his words, but at the meeting today Simon said he shook hands with Quevillon and they agreed to continue talks.

Simon praised the Oka mayor for displaying courage, but the grand chief didn’t give details about the nature of their conversation.

Quevillon says he came to the summit in a spirit of reconciliation. The Oka mayor did not answer reporters’ questions about what motivated him to reconcile with the grand chief.

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