The music festival was supposed to take place in Oka on July 31.
Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame was set to perform at the Oka Kanehsatake Music and DJ Festival on July 31, but event organizers have cancelled the show, citing solidarity with the Indigenous community.
Miguel Lopez and Rickey Daley, the festival's organizer and promoter, respectively, told MTL Blog the Mohawks of Kanesatake were originally on board with having a concert on their territory. But they said perspectives shifted after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools across Canada.
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Lopez told MTL Blog that he originally planned for the festival to be held on a large piece of land belonging to a Mohawk family, but after word spread that a major festival would be held in the area, the organizers received backlash from the wider Mohawk community. The show had also been cancelled once before, he said.
"We started having a lot of negative comments from the Mohawk nation, saying that they didn't want all these people walking around," Lopez told MTL Blog.
"And to top it all off [...] the show got postponed for a date where [...] they had the election going, you know, for whoever the new Chief is going to be."
Kanesatake is in the midst of an election for the First Nation's Grand Chief and Chiefs. Lopez said this made it more difficult to organize a large-scale event on Mohawk land.
"That's when we had to [...] all sit down at a board meeting, and we [made] the decision out of respect for their community [...] and the things that are going on right now, as well as their election, that we would put everything on hold," Lopez said.
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Lopez told MTL Blog he intends to meet with the Mohawk Council before re-organizing the festival, in order to "get proper approvals and the support of all the community."
"We want to make sure that the fans have a safe environment with zero animosity attached to our events," he said.
"The Mohawk Nation is a beautiful nation [and] I would really like to bring something positive over there to make people feel [...] like it is a safe place to go out. I would not go forward without having [the Council] and the Mohawk Nation behind us."
The event managers expected approximately 1,000 spectators at the show, according to Daley. He said an on-site cannabis dispensary — which would not have been legal had the show taken place in Montreal — and alcohol sales were part of the festival's original plan.
"Sometimes, not all money is good money. Sometimes you gotta step back and show the bigger picture, that way the Native community can look at you and respect you," Daley said.
However, though Lopez hopes to reorganize the event for the fall, he intends to meet the newly elected Council of Chiefs and the Grand Chief after the July 31 election before that can happen.
"We will have to see with the new Council at that time if they are in agreement [...] with what we will set forward," he told MTL Blog.
"And at [that] point, we will have to have a clear yes."
MTL Blog reached out to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake for comment but it was not able to provide further information at the time. We will update this story if that changes.