In a controversial move, Kanehsatake Mohawk Territory Grand Chief Serge Simon called in provincial police the Sureté de Québec (SQ) to the First Nation outside Montreal, saying cannabis- and tobacco-shack owners on the Mohawk Reserve were planning to confine him in his council office so they could reopen.
- Kanehsatake’s economy is fueled in large part by dozens of cannabis dispensaries and tax-free tobacco shops, which sell mostly to non-Native customers. At the beginning of the pandemic, Simon ordered roadblocks up to prevent outsiders from entering the community.
- Simon’s opponents say he exaggerated business owners’ anger at his handling of the crisis. First Nations have different eligibilities for federal COVID bailout funds, and Simon’s opponents say he’s failing to inform them about their options to keep themselves afloat.
Kanehsatake was ground-zero for the 1990 Oka Crisis, which began as an exchange of gunfire between Mohawk Warriors and members of the SQ, seen by many as an occupying power.
- Simon vowed to keep the roadblocks up to protect community health. He said, “If it’s a choice between calling the SQ and seeing mass death come to this territory, I’ll call in the SQ.”
Journal de Montréal–In French