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COMMENTS TO QUEBEC SUPERIOR COURT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND TO OBTAIN A SAFEGUARD ORDER ON SEPT. 14, 2023. CASE #500-17-120468-221: Kaheninetha et al v. SQI, McGill University, et all.; and Intervenors Independant Spedical Interlocateur for Missing Children & Unmarked Graves….
MNN. Sept. 15, 2023. “Shé :kon Sewakwe :kon. I am Kahentinetha, a Kahnistensera. I’m 84 years old, a great grand mother. Much of what we are doing at McGill and SQI are based on my experience, and that of the people I’ve known.
I was born in 1940. Many of our teachers at the day school I attended as a child were soldiers who just came back from the war. They were in charge and took a military approach to help Canada to annihilate us. They moved from the European theatre and to home grown Canadian war for Indian land, which continues to this day. They are trained killers sent to train the Indigenous children. It was the army managing us. Managing our disappearance. I have known about what was done to our children, to Inuit children too, in some of these hospitals. Children strapped to their stretchers, trapped in caskets. Horrible things. They came to get the weakest and the strongest of us. Intelligence tests at the Allan Memorial Institute to screen us and incarcerate the unruly, of which they studied the mind, to understand how it is that we think, the reasons why we are still ourselves, Onkwehonweh, and never became Canadians.
I’m here for these lost children, to know what happened to them, and who did it, without lawyers and no funds, just using our way against the corporation of Canada.
That’s why I came to the crime site on Mount Royal every day, without pay, to do the words to open the day, to see how things are going, that our ancestors and children are respected and that they are being found. It wasn’t easy. The toilets were filthy. We had to walk through dangerous construction sites, high fences around, and the security attacking us. A nightmare. I was reminded of when my daughter was stabbed in the chest by a soldier in 1990. Genocide is a nightmare that I have been through and that I witnessed. My family was targeted as a traditional longhouse family. Non-Indigenous people often have a hard time understanding that. They were and are still not told the complete story. If we could get the archives we are asking for, if there was a real commitment to transparency for ethnic crimes committed on us in the post-war period, it would help us.
Justice Moore stated in the injunction that he ordered last October that no party disputed the fact that the investigation must be “Indigenous-led”. The settlement agreement provided that Cultural Monitors appointed by the Kahnistensera must be on the site. Only a fraction of our cultural monitors have received a basic safety training, and certainly nothing that would allow us to securely monitor heavy machinery on the site. We have no real protective equipment to do that. We were expected to use filthy toilets that were on the other side of the site, in an area under construction where they were stockpiling bricks in high stacks, that could fall on us at any time. We were attacked by the SQI’s security guards, and SQI told us they wouldn’t come back, but we just stumbled on them last Sunday still working there. They were there all the time! I don’t understand how it can be so complicated to understand what Indigenous-led means! It means something that is safe for us to do things our own way, to burn our tobacco, to make decisions together using our consensual decision making system. Now the Defendants say something new that they didn’t even tell us about before starting to drill the site. They say they built another fenced area in between all the other fences, creating an open air prison to put us in and hopefully protect us from rocks flying over and guards insulting us. By any stretch of the imagination this cannot be considered lawful, let alone safe, in any law, Mohawk or Canadian.
Being on the site was not easy in a context where the Defendants apparently do not want us to be there at all. We are facing constant pressure. The slightest attitude that doesn’t fit within non-Indigenous people’s understanding of what it means to be nice was denounced immediately. I was very sorry to learn that Sophie Mayes from the SQI resorted to pulling emails from some service providers that they had contracted who apparently did not like the way us Mohawk women conduct ourselves. I do not want to perpetuate and thus endorse the Defendants’ disturbing use of defamation and ad hominem attacks through quoting non-Indigenous third parties in their submissions. Such accusations are absolutely baseless and reflect the fundamental problem with the way the Defendants unilaterally sign contracts with service providers that end up thinking they work for them, along with non-disclosure agreements and a client-provider relation that excludes the Indigenous people who are the only party that has a vested interest in the credibility of the investigation. When someone like Brian Whiting, department manager at GeoScan, says that he was upset by what I told him when he came to see me last weekend during a GPR survey, he doesn’t say that what I was asking him about is why we cannot access the raw data from the GPR, and why experts cannot get that data and analyse it. He finally admitted that it was because he is under contract with the SQI, and his allegiance goes to who is paying. At the same time, as Kwetiio said before, Mr Whiting’s own recommendations were not followed by the Defendants regarding the unknown anomalies. The SQI and McGill simply decided to ignore them. I know the settlement agreement does not allow them to do that. Nobody on our side of the room would ever have signed such a document.
To finish, I have something to say that I learned after my affidavit was completed, and that I couldn’t include in our submissions. But it happened. An indigenous person called me, who had been contacted by Pierre Major from McGill University, starting a few weeks ago, and again these last days. McGill was searching for a cultural monitor for archaeological work at the Royal Victoria site. This was done without telling us, or involving us, as if McGill wanted to continue their work by hiring their own monitors. The settlement agreement provides that it is the Kahnistensera who appoint the cultural monitors. The person was offered a good salary, a hotel, benefits, and a McGill masters degree. Mr. Major also said a few disparaging words about us, the Mohawk Mothers. We were ‘mean’ women who were not nice to security guards on the site. Aggressive, hysterical women, basically. Obviously the person didn’t believe a word of it. He said he knows how Indigenous woman are. It’s not the first time I’m contacted by people who are approached that way by the Defendants. I ask you to stop this now and show some respect for your elders. I am your elder too. It’s clear to me that the service providers were constantly hearing bad things about us, and became very reactive and apprehensive when we approached them. But the majority of them were very nice and asked us questions, including the two technicians from GeoScan that Mr. Whiting described as upset by our presence. Actually they asked us a lot of questions, and we explained them. They told us about their work to help us explain this to our people. They participated in our ceremonies. The way it should be, very simply, to be real human beings, Onkwehonweh. That’s the way we can truly change our relationship and become free.
I know it’s my right to do this. It’s my responsibility according to the Kaianerehkowa. I am a Kahnistensera, and I declare the genocide is now over.”
So as Willie Nelson reminds everyone, the party’s over.
thahoketoteh firstname.lastname@example.org MNN court correspondent
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