“The meeting was everywhere. There was a lot of commotion. There were a lot of arguments. People talk over each other. It really went back and forth,” said Kanehsata’kehró:non Anientha Simon.
Simon is referring to the short-notice community meeting that was announced on Monday and held on Tuesday.
According to Simon, about 45 people showed up. More people could have attended, at least virtually, if the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) had transmitted the meeting via Zoom.
Ahead of the three-hour meeting that started at 7 p.m., many community members were asking for a Zoom link on MCK’s Facebook page — until MCK announced it wouldn’t be providing one.
Over the past two years, virtual access to meetings has become common practice due to the health measures that are still in place.
People were confused and upset and questioned the reasoning behind the decision on social media.
“Personally it bothered me because – especially calling a last minute meeting – I really think they should have allowed Zoom because there are seniors and parents who have kids going to school the next day. and even for people with health issues, whatever the case may be there should be a link,” Simon said.
MCK Grand Chief Victor Bonspille said The Eastern Gate that the reason Council restricted access to the meeting was due to the actions of another chief at the last community meeting.
“Unknowingly, a head of the Council went ahead before the meeting started and removed the login and security of this link to open it to anyone outside, including your newspaper,” said declared Bonspille. “This leader has broken trust and violated the vulnerability of our community and its members by making this unilateral decision on his own.”
The Grand Chief pointed out that community meetings are for band members only. He said that prior to this April 12 meeting, the Council had decided that it would follow the same format with security checks for access.
“It’s not open to outsiders or outside governments, outside entities and outside people. It’s for our members here. It’s private, and this person made it public. He breached the trust. He violated the privacy of our entire community,” the Grand Chief said.
Bonspille did not reveal the identity of the leader.
According to the Grand Chief, the reason the meeting was called in the first place was to discuss portfolio changes he recently made as a disciplinary action against Chiefs Brant Etienne and John Canatonquin regarding the disbursement of relief funds. to COVID-19 businesses.
“Some bosses on the portfolios I changed disagreed. They fight me over it. And they’re actually saying the big chief has no power here. I do not agree. And they also said I had no authority to call a community meeting, which I also disagree with,” he said.
“I told them that if they wanted to say these things about me and other issues, they should come to the meeting I called. It’s a duly called community meeting.
Only the Grand Chief and his sister, Chief Valérie Bonspille, showed up for the meeting. Chef Amy Beauvais is currently on sick leave, so her presence was not planned.
“I was a little surprised. I thought at least one or two of these chiefs would have the courage to face their community, the people who elected them,” Bonspille said.
“But one of them, I’m not surprised. He blatantly said he wouldn’t come because I didn’t have the authority to call a community meeting. And that was Chief Brant Etienne .
Chef Etienne did not respond to a request for comment.
“I’m ready to work with anyone. I’ve been through so much with past terms. I’m ready for anything that comes my way. I’m not going to back down. I’m here for my community” , said the great leader.
“I am for transparency and honesty. These other bosses can’t deal with that. They have a problem with honesty, transparency and accountability.
Simon said other topics discussed at the meeting included land claims and security issues regarding cannabis stores in the pines.
“There was also a lot of big talk from the chefs who didn’t show up,” she said.
The Grand Chief declined to comment or provide an update on the by-election or the status of the land claim.
“This (internal struggle) bothers me a lot. This puts a damper on the whole community. Everyone involved suffers the consequences,” Simon said.
“They’re immature and juvenile, and they’re only thinking about themselves at this point, and they really need to start thinking about the seven generations ahead of us who are screwed because of their immaturity.”
She said she knows other members of the community agree that the infighting is detrimental to Kanesatake.
“I know there are quite a few people who are deeply upset by this and even angry. There are people who are still supportive, but there is also a lot of backtracking on their support,” she explained.
The Grand Chief said he was elected for transparency, honesty and inclusiveness and that his actions embody and reinforce these values.
“If anyone in the Council wants to challenge that kind of leadership, then they need to come out and tell the community and not hide at home when a meeting is called,” he said.
Simon, however, said the discussions that took place on Tuesday evening were far from inclusive.
“It felt like a power trip with the big boss, and he wants to control the bosses under him. It’s not really about equality as they tried to say,” the community member added.
“I think they need to sit in front of the community and address all the lies and everything that’s going on behind the scenes and wipe the slate clean, and if they can work together after that, then that’s great. Otherwise, I think we should call a general election now.