- The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke has proposed replacing RCMP in Wet'suwet'en with a "temporary Indigenous police force" in an effort to deescalate the ongoing situation.
- The Kahnawà:ke Peacekeepers would provide policing services and assist in "everyday matters."
- The Kahnawà:ke Peacekeepers provided a similar service for the neighbouring Mohawk community of Kanesatake in January 2004.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke is now officially offering a solution to deescalate the ongoing situation concerning RCMP in Wet'suwet'en. In a press release on Friday, February 28, leaders suggested replacing the RCMP present at We'suwet'en in British Columbia with Kahnawà:ke Peacekeepers as a "temporary Indigenous police force." Kahnawà:ke is the current site of one of the longest-standing rail blockades erected in response to RCMP presence on indigenous land in B.C. linked to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.
A rail blockade in Ontario's Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory ended in several arrests earlier this week after 19 days of interrupted rail service.
The rail blockade in Kahnawà:ke has been blocking the exo6 Candiac commuter train line to Montreal for three weeks. A similar blockade in St-Lambert was dismantled after three days.
In Kahnawà:ke, however, policing is carried out by the Kahnawà:ke Peacekeepers, as the land is under their jurisdiction.
Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton of the Mohawk Council of
Kahnawà:ke has thus put forth the Peacekeepers as the temporary solution "that could go a long way towards allowing some forward momentum in the talks."
Grand Chief Joe Norton explains that "the key demand is for the RCMP to leave" and that the presence of the RCMP on Wet'suwet'en land remains "one of the most problematic issues" in the Wet’suwet’en situation.
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake offers peaceful solution to Wet’suwet’en situation https://t.co/WrWbrlo18r https://t.co/JbpQSGA8kq— MCK Public Relations (@MCK Public Relations) 1582909384.0
However, there is still "a need for policing services to offer assistance in everyday matters."
The Kahnawà:ke leaders feel that the substitution for their Peacekeepers "can lead to an immediate de-escalation of the current crisis," the Grand Chief asserts.
The Chief Peacekeeper in Kahnawà:ke is Dwayne Zacharie, who has "agreed to contact his fellow Indigenous police chiefs in an attempt to gather a sufficient number of officers to ensure public safety."
The press release also calls to mind precedent in recent history, when the Peacekeepers were "requested to take over policing for a 30-day period in the neighbouring Mohawk community of Kanesatake on an emergency basis" in January of 2004.
According to the MCK, "the Peacekeepers were successful in restoring calm, and their efforts were much appreciated" during this situation.
Earlier this week, Quebec Premier François Legault came under fire for expressing concern about the presence of weapons in Kahnawà:ke.
MCK expresses extreme concern regarding Premier Legault’s reckless statement that will undoubtedly inflame a situat… https://t.co/vrWu067pGj— MCK Public Relations (@MCK Public Relations) 1582756224.0
The Premier had asserted 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."
He continued, saying that he was allowing the Sûreté du Québec time to "make a strategy," as he could not have it on his conscience if an SQ officer was hurt amidst an intervention.
Stay tuned for updates.