- Quebec Premier François Legault was heard on video asserting that the reason the Sûreté du Québec had not yet acted on the Supreme Court injunction to dismantle the blockade in Kahnawà:ke was due to the presence of AK-47 assault rifles and other "offensive weapons."
- Indigenous people, as well as members of the Mohawk Council, were quick to denounce this claim as false as well as reckless and intentioned to incite more hate and fear.
- See Legault's claim on video, below, as well as the response from those at the blockade.
François Legault has made what some are calling a dangerous claim when he recently asserted during a media scrum that the Mohawk or Kanien’kehá:ka people in Kahnawà:ke were armed with AK-47 assault rifles as explanation for why the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has still not acted on the injunction issued by the Quebec Supreme Court to have the rail blockade forcibly removed. The blockade is coming in on its third week interrupting service on the Montreal-region commuter train exo6 to Candiac.
The rail blockade was erected in support of the Wet'suwet'en people of British Columbia who are protesting the construction of a Coastal GasLink pipeline that would run through their unceded territory.
In the video below, Legault explains that he has information from a "very good source" which indicates the presence of AK-47s and other "offensive weapons."
He also goes on to explain that he is allowing the SQ time to "make a strategy," as he could not have it on his conscience if an SQ officer was hurt amidst an intervention.
Legault does not mention how injury to a Kanien’kehá:ka person by an armed SQ officer would weigh on his conscience.
Below is a clip of the media scrum where Legault mentions the presence of weapons, although he does not specify whether his information indicates the alleged weapons are at the blockade site or on the reserve in general.
Representatives of the Kanien’kehá:ka were quick to speak out against this claim, particularly as it has the potential to inflame what has otherwise been a peaceful demonstration.
I visited Kahnawà:ke myself when the blockade began and I can attest to Kanien’kehá:ka claims that the site was inviting, even as an outsider coming in, as well as peaceful, with children present and playing in the snow.
See my conversation with the Kanien’kehá:ka and fellow land protectors at the blockade site at the link below.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke, as well as the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy, both spoke out against the Supreme Court injunction and Legault's claims of guns in press statements, which you can read in full below.
News Release - Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake Reaction to Injunction https://t.co/5lQmUsz7S3— Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer (@Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer) 1582735397.0
What Legault fails to explain in discussing the lack of SQ action on the blockade in Kahnawà:ke is that the blockade falls outside of their jurisdiction.
Chief Council member Kahsennenhawe Sky Deer explained, "the people here, they're not answerable to the Quebec government, or to the SQ," which can be seen in a video published by Radio-Canada.
"Kahnawà:ke's not Quebec. Kahnawà:ke's not even Canada. Kahnawà:ke is Kahnawà:ke," another man explains.
I’m one of the many survivors of the 1990 Oka crisis. Legault spreading this false information could dismantle the… https://t.co/6YCHK6kIiY— Kaniehtiio Horn (@Kaniehtiio Horn) 1582751952.0
CANADA: this is a reminder, from a historian of Indigenous-settler relations who teaches a course on the 1990 Oka c… https://t.co/afSeKWgbje— Sean Carleton (@Sean Carleton) 1582759154.0
I don’t know which settlers need to hear this but the coast-to-coast movement we are bearing witness to right now i… https://t.co/9GaNd5Unvq— Michael Stewart (@Michael Stewart) 1582762820.0
Just as with the Wet'suwet'en in British Columbia, for the Kanien’kehá:ka people in Kahnawà:ke this all comes back to the issue of sovereignty and the right to land that is historically and legally outside the framework of Canada.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke insists that Legault's claims of weapons on the site of the blockade is "simply and unequivocally" false.