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Open letter to Grand Chief Joe Norton
May 6, 2004

She:kon Chief Norton:

We the good people of Kanesatake find it hard to believe that another Mohawk Chief would make the statements you did on the 5:30p.m. 940 news station (radio) on May 6, 2004.

Let me inform you, since you are not very well informed of the truth. You seem to only listen to the criminal element of Kanesatake.

The motivation of Our Chief, James Gabriel, came from the people of Kanesatake, who signed a petition informing both Quebec and the Federal Governments, that we, the people of Kanesatake, want the police force left as is. We, the honest people of Kanesatake, want the bad people reprimanded for crimes within our territory. Look at what has been happening; the criminals turned on Larry Ross and wanted him fired for doing his job of cleaning up. Next came Terry Isaac, who was also doing his job of cleaning up the crime. Once again the criminals ran him out. Therefore, the criminal turned on Chief Gabriel.

When police were brought in to start a clean up, the criminal element once again took over and kept some sixty police hostage. Meanwhile, you were dealing with the Minister of Quebec and the criminal elements, who do not represent this community.

You and the Minister brought in your non-recognized police force, not to back up the police force held hostage, but rather to escort the GOOD GUYS out, leaving the bad people to ravage and steal from the police building and intimidate Band Employees. (Very good job Joe)

‎Then you didn't want your supposed police sworn in. The courts wouldn't recognize your so-called cops and no investigation and evidence would be accepted by the courts.

Well, you finally decided to swear in your make believe cops. But still to no avail. Wc, the people, question as to what your boys did. They were here to collect large sums of money and live healthy at the 640 motel; Mr. Norton, you say Mr. Gabriel is very hungry! Chief, with the greatest respect, but we know how many nights your good guys backed their cars into the garage and sleep all night, in order to be able to work on your territory the next day.

I wonder who is the real money hungry person!!!

I also would hope that you would have only good wishes and prayer for Chief Gabriel, whose family was burnt out of their home. I ask you, Chief Norton, what if this would happen to you and your family?

Chief Gabriel has kept his calm and still doesn't want violence, but still lives off this territory and can't even get in to start his new home.

Chief Norton, how could you begrudge this man his life with his family in his own home. Chief, feel lucky you can go home!

The people of Kanesatake are fed up with your interference in our territory. You as a Chief should be working with the Chief and the majority of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, rather than working with the criminals.

With respect to you as a Chief, govern your own territory and not anyone else's, especially other criminal elements.

Our people, elders and children are suffering due to the criminals in Kanesatake.
Help fight the crime and not assist in helping make them stronger.

Our people need economical growth
Our children need education, not missing school or standing on criminal barricades.
Our elders need to pass on the essence, of their very being, not locked and afraid to come out.

‎If you can't help us grow and develop, don't help us at all!!!


Open eyed owl

Response from Grand Chief James Gabriel to Grand Chief Joe Norton

LAVAL, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - I am extremely concerned about the misleading comments that Mr. Joe Norton has made and about his intrusion once again into the affairs of another First Nation.

The first thing that people need to understand is that the current crisis is not about an internal difference among the Chiefs on the Band Council about an issue on which people could legitimately have different points of view, such as how to develop a block of land or invest Band funds. Such differences could possibly be mediated.

This crisis is about the efforts of certain members to prevent the implementation of an exemplary policing agreement signed by Kanesatake, Quebec, and Canada. When the previous tripartite policing agreement was extended in 2003, opponents to good government erected a roadblock for four days in March/April 2003. On numerous occasions, mediation was offered to the dissidents and it was refused.

The new Agreement is a great improvement over the previous one. It defines the role of the Chief of Police with greater clarity and provides clearer rules in respect of discipline, dismissal and professional conduct for the police force. It ensures that the police force is independent of the Band Council and the Police Commission in the performance of all law enforcement functions and puts in place a new selection process for police offices, the Chief of Police, and Police Commission members. It imposes clearer accountability requirements on Kanesatake and auditing provisions for the funding that the police force receives from Canada and Quebec. It is a model agreement.

Those Chiefs who oppose the new Agreement were invited to council meetings to discuss it and make their views known. They refused to attend and participate.

We have a legitimate Kanesatake Mohawk Police Force that has been trying to implement that Agreement. The officers are sworn in under the Quebec Police Act. They are Aboriginal. Most of them are Mohawk, from Kanesatake and from our sister communities. The interim Chief of Police is a Mohawk traditionalist. Any suggestion that they are not reputable or qualified is an insult to the home communities of these officers and the forces they worked on in the past.

Mr. Norton says that mediation is necessary. You don't mediate law and order. You respect it. And no one has a greater duty to show that respect and to set an example of good conduct than elected officials. I am ashamed to say that two of the Chiefs on the Kanesatake Band Council have threatened our police officers. As an elected official, I would expect Mr. Norton to share this view and to respect the democratic process that elected me Grand Chief. The decision that I and the quorum of Chiefs on Council took to combat organized crime by having a rigorous policing agreement and a determined police force is also one that I would also expect Mr. Norton to support.

Mr. Norton has criticized me for seeking the help of the SQ and the RCMP. He may recall that in 2002 Kahnawake sought the help of the SQ, RCMP, MUC (Montreal Urban Community police), and the Kanesatake and Akwesasne police forces to help deal with an alcohol production in its Territory. Kahnawake took the steps that it deemed were appropriate to the circumstances in its community. I supported our interim Chief of Police, Ed Thompson, when he sought the help that he deemed necessary to police our community.

Mr. Norton referred to a meeting in Belleville where Mohawks Chiefs and their Chiefs of Police proposed a broad approach to address policing needs in Mohawk Territories. I have no particular objection to the proposal. The problem is that the proposal raised numerous jurisdictional and operational issues that would necessarily require extensive consultation, careful planning and clear protocols before it could be set in motion. My community doesn't have the luxury of waiting for this proposal to be put in place and tested.

The people who are preventing our police officers entering the Kanesatake Territory are restricting the freedom of our community members, jeopardizing their safety and compromising their well being. During the review yesterday (May 6, 2004) of arrest warrants, the Court heard testimony regarding the number of Kanesatake community members who have called our police hot line to express concerns regarding their safety and to record the intimidation they have suffered, not at the hand of our police officers, but of those in opposition to our officers.

Mr. Norton stated that "All sides must be reminded that it is only when people lose the vision of creating solutions that violence is allowed to occur." I have not lost sight for a moment of the vision that I have for my community as a stable, progressive, civil and free society. A legitimate police force is an essential part of the solution to the violence and criminality that threatens Kanesatake. The task of the police is only made more difficult by outside leaders who suggest that we mediate law and order and give in to intimidation.

James Gabriel
Grand Chief, Mohawk Council of Kanesatake

For further information: Dean Dussault, (514) 992-9785 

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