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INDIAN AFFAIRS NEWS RELEASE ON KANESATAKE ISSUE

2-02493

STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE ANDY MITCHELL, MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT & THE HONOURABLE ANNE MCLELLAN, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS


GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO COOPERATIVE RESOLUTION OF COMMUNITY ISSUES


OTTAWA , ONTARIO (May 10, 2004) - Today the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Andy Mitchell, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, met with Grand Chief James Gabriel and members of council, Chiefs Doreen Canatonquin, Marie Chéné and Clarence Simon, in Ottawa to review the current situation within the community of Kanesatake.

Even though intimidation and personal threats against the Grand Chief and the criminal arson of his residence prevent him from returning to his community, the Government of Canada recognizes and supports him as the legitimate, duly-elected leader of Kanesatake. This legitimacy has been upheld by the Courts. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to working together with Grand Chief Gabriel and his Council to resolve the issues in the community.

Peaceful and lawful dissent are an essential component of the democratic process, however the Ministers expressed their concern that the use of violence undermines First Nations governance and can only lead to continued unrest contrary to the best interests of the community.

Working together, the Government of Canada, the Province of Quebec and the Grand Chief and Council of Kanesatake have duly executed a tripartite policing agreement to help ensure that law and order and community security is upheld. The implementation of that agreement is now underway.

As successful steps are taken to ensure the restoration of public order, we agree that action can be taken to improve conditions in other areas. Once this restoration has been achieved, we are prepared to assist the Council in facilitating a healing strategy, the aim of which is to enable the Band Council to transact its business within the norms of democratic principles. We must emphasize that respect for law and order and the existence of public security are not negotiable.

We remain committed to action on these matters and to the peaceful resolution of the situation in Kanesatake.

For further information, please contact:

Bryan Kirk
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Andy Mitchell
(819) 997-0002

Alex Swann
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Anne McLellan
(613) 991-2863 

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