It’s been one week since community efforts resulted in a convicted pedophile being removed from Kahnawake, but Takwenhawi Diabo has been trying to get him out of her property since May.
“They say to have a lease, to protect yourself and to protect the tenant,” said Diabo. “But there’s no renters board in Kahnawake. The lease really doesn’t mean anything, because we don’t have a law in Kahnawake.”
Diabo had no idea, along with many in the community, that her tenant, Darin Albany had been convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13, in the state of Michigan. Since September 26, 2012, Albany has been absconded from his probation.
Diabo first met Albany through a family friend, and he was originally hired to help renovate the apartment he subsequently lived in. Once the renovations were complete, he had asked to rent it out, and so Diabo had drawn up a lease. He’s been living in Diabo’s property since September 2022.
“We had conditions in there. No smoking, no drinking, no pets, keep the peace, keep it clean, all of these things. And he slowly was violating many of them,” she said. “Then we came to find out the tenant upstairs had to call the cops on him several times. He was threatening her kids.”
Diabo said that neighbours reported that Albany was becoming increasingly unstable, frequently yelling in the street.
“She said she had cameras out there, and every weekend, he gets drunk, he’s yelling things like ‘Oh, I’m a squatter, I’m not leaving, I’m a pedophile, big deal, who cares, you can’t make me leave, I have rights,’ all kinds of things,” Diabo said.
It was at that point a neighbour told Diabo that Albany had charges in the US of sexual offences against a minor. She contacted the Peacekeepers, who she said told her there was nothing they could do about it since there is no law regarding enforcing evictions.
Diabo told Albany to leave, giving him 30 days’ notice verbally. But he refused to move out after the notice period was up, claiming that a written notice was required in order for the request to be valid. Diabo’s father served him with written papers last month, on July 3. By August 2, Albany was still residing in the unit, leading Diabo to call Ryan Montour, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) portfolio chief for public safety.
“The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake actually issued a letter of non-entitlement to reside within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake,” Montour said.
Montour explained that an emergency council meeting was called concerning the situation on Friday, August 11 at 5:15 p.m., around two hours before Albany was ultimately removed by a bailiff, who Montour said had Peacekeeper protection and was sent by the MCK.
“We want to make clear that Kahnawake will not be used as a safe haven for criminal offenders absconding from other jurisdictions or legal offenses,” Montour said. “This was a very unique situation.”
Montour explained that Albany is not allowed to return to the territory, including to Tioweró:ton. But Diabo remains concerned about what processes are in place to protect her and the community should he attempt to return.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do, if he’s going to get drunk wherever they dropped him off, if he’s going to try to then retaliate and do something back to us,” she said. “He’s not welcomed in the community now, but I don’t know if he’s going to try to come back here. I don’t know if he’ll try Tioweró:ton. We have a cabin there, and I don’t know if he’ll try to do something.”
Though she has concerns, Diabo said the community made clear their opinion by protesting Albany’s presence outside the home last Friday.
“I’m pretty confident he’s not going to come back…the community knows now,” she said. “It wouldn’t be smart for him to come back here at all.”
Protestors originally arrived at the house around 3 p.m. on Friday, bearing large signs reading slogans such as “Our children are not safe in this neighbourhood,’ ‘Pedophiles are not welcome in Kahnawake,’ and ‘You’re not welcome here Mr Albany.’ Cars also honked horns repeatedly until he left the house.
Though the community came out in force to protest Albany’s presence, Montour said that he is asking people to trust the Council.
“Although the community is encouraged to voice their concerns and raise issues with respect to public safety matters, the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers along with the MCK’s Public Safety Division have the sole authority for the safety and security of our community, our community members, and residents,” he said.
“We encourage you to trust the process of our local authorities as we do not want community members to take the law into their own hands.”
But Diabo said that without anything making leases enforceable or allowing for evictions from property, this scenario could happen again. She said that the Peacekeepers told her that any evictions follow Quebec law, but when she spoke with representatives from Quebec’s housing authority, they told her they don’t have jurisdiction in Kahnawake and can’t evict people from the community.
“I went every possible route, and nobody seemed to be able to help me, and we’re not allowed to go evict them ourselves,” Diabo said. “If this happens again, then what are you supposed to do?”
The Peacekeepers said that they alerted the agency in Michigan where Albany’s original warrant originated from, but they declined to extradite him. They also escorted the bailiff on Friday, but did not know where MCK’s bailiff took him afterwards.
In the meantime, Diabo isn’t planning to lease out her apartment any time soon.