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Mohawk Council’s transparency?

Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte The Eastern Door

Election season is upon us. No, not THAT election! The one with your favourite Mohawk Council of Kahnawake chiefs. So let the fun begin! 

Okay it isn’t really fun, and they may not be your favourite, especially if you simply don’t vote/believe in the Indian Act system, but hey, it will still be entertaining, no doubt! 

It makes us think of what kind of role the government of the day plays in town, as administrators, lawmakers (whether they admit to it these days or not), and negotiators for some very big files like land claims, policing, self-government, and our general future at stake. 

So when we look at the unofficial list, which will become official this Friday (today if you’re reading this in print), we don’t see much difference happening. 

Sure, the five vacant seats left by the retiring Lindsay LeBorgne, new membership registrar Mike Delisle, Harry Rice, Jessica Lazare, and Cody Diabo, means new blood is coming whether we like it or not, but we honestly hope some of that new blood will make a difference and not fall into the same trap they criticize on Facebook. 

Elections are a time for a portion of the community to stand up and be counted, but many are left behind – and that’s why this system, eventually, will have to change to reflect the community as a whole, and not just those who vote. 

Today’s front page is about an alleged breach at the MCK, and former Mohawk Online head Dean Montour is taking Council to court because, as he said in the documents, he was allegedly forced to resign without just cause. 

He’s suing for a lot of money, and it stems from current MCK chief Cody Diabo, who is running for grand chief, asking questions related to Montour’s work. 

There isn’t much stuff coming out on the record, but Diabo said, on the record, that he will continue to ask questions because that’s what he was elected for. More will come out in court, no doubt. 

Which brings us to the ridiculous MCK media blackout that disallows sitting MCK chiefs to comment on pertinent issues weeks before the actual election. This year it was a week earlier than usual – before nominations. 

The people have a right to know what’s going on, regardless of when things happen during an election cycle, and sitting chiefs, surprise, surprise, have an advantage as incumbents over those running for office who aren’t currently holding a seat. 

In other words, when stuff hits the fan like this huge lawsuit that came to The Eastern Door‘s attention recently, the chiefs should be free to comment, not handcuffed and told not to. 

It doesn’t give them that much of an advantage by simply doing their jobs, and if it does make them look better or worse in the public’s eye, then that’s what important issues concerning the community should do. 

Everyone has a right to know what’s going on behind closed doors and everyone has the right to question, with respect and a good mind, anything related to their community, children, and future. 

Next week, a story on another big lawsuit will be coming out, against the MCK once again, and we hope the chiefs see fit to talk directly to us, and not through some PR puff piece or press release. 

Why were these lawsuits not made public in the first place? Can’t comment much on them? Fine, but don’t think they will just go away. 

The Dean Montour lawsuit was launched in March yet not a peep from Council, and now they will try to hide behind a self-imposed media blackout for the next few weeks. 

For Kahnawake to move forward and prosper in the modern day, questions must be asked, real, truthful answers must be provided, and chiefs must always remember the role they were elected into was given to them, and can easily be taken away, by the people. 

This editorial was originally published in print on May 31 in issue 33.22 of The Eastern Door.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.