APTN National News
A case launched against the Quebec government for handing over land to the Kahnawa’:ke Mohawk Territory is now before the courts.
The suit was filed by a number of Quebec municipalities that are angry that the land in question was returned to the Mohawk Territory in 2013 without consulting them.
“All that we’ve wanted and all that we’ve said since the beginning is that we’ve want to a part of the process,” said Châteauguay mayor in 2013 “We weren’t part of the of the negotiation, we weren’t part of the consultation concerning those lands which presently fall under the territorial limits of out municipalities.”
But Mohawk leadership weren’t having any of that talk.
“Municipal governments have no place at that table,” said Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton. “It’s a little bit frustrating sitting there listening to the municipalities trying to show how they want to work with us in terms of having an opportunity to sit at the table and be part of the negotiations which they have no business to.”
The land is a part of Kahnawà:ke’s Seigneury Sault St-Louis historical land claim. The 283 hectares were returned to Kahnawà:ke as compensation for building a highway through the territory.
But an injunction has been in place on any use of the land since the municipalities launched their lawsuit. It prevented Kahnawà:
Norton said it prevented Kahnawà:ke’s from any development of the land which runs adjacent to highway 30.
As a result, Norton said Kahnawà:ke has lost years of potential economic development over the dispute.
“A lot of things that have been planned, major corporations at the table that were prepared to work with us, and suddenly all this stops. It’s very valuable lost time.”
Kahnawà:ke has independent intervenor in the three-week trial and will have several members testifying.
Norton hopes this particular land battle will be done once and for all at the end.
“It’s our territory and our economic future, where our people will live and thrive in the near future.”