The town of Oka wants federal and provincial governments to halt a potential land transfer to neighbouring Kanesatake, and the RCMP deployed to the area, as tensions simmer between the two communities.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Oka town council passed three resolutions meant, in the council’s words, to "bring order back to the Mohawk First Nation."
The council repeated that it was not seeking confrontation, but that it would like public hearings over the proposed land transfer from local businessman Gregoire Gollin to the Indigenous community.
Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon harshly criticized Gollin’s proposed “ecological gift” complaining that his town will be surrounded by cannabis dispensaries, smoke shops and dumpsites if the town is not consulted.
Mohawk Council of Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon demanded an apology for the remarks and said talks are off between the two communities until he gets one. He also warned that such words recall "the ghost of 1990 and a mistrust of each other."
"They're trying to poke at my community," said Simon. "They're kind of pushing us a little bit to try to get a reaction, and I'm hoping my community doesn't fall for the bait beacise that's all he wants to do. He expressed his desire to trigger another crisis to get what he wants."
Tuesday, Quevillon derided possible compensation Ottawa may give to the Kanesatake Mohawks to annex lands they want near Oka, and that Oka wants to see exactly what lands Gollin had in mind to transfer.
The Oka mayor said an RCMP presence is needed in Kanesatake to re-establish peace and allow the two communities to work together for economic development. Kanesatake is currently under SQ jurisdiction.
"He wants the RCMP to come in? He knows what the results will be," said Simon. "They're not going to help clean anything up. They're just going to trigger a much broader conflict."
Simon wants the federal to sit down with Kanesatake and find a way to improve the policing situation.
Simon said Quenvillon's posturing and tone is ridiculous, and that it's motivated by prejudice.
"If I go by what he said, it looks like there's a tint of racism in there," said Simon.
It was the first council meeting since the war of words between the two leaders began last month.
The situation has revived thoughts of 1990’s Oka Crisis, and both leaders have said they do not want a repeat of a situation that led to the 78-day standoff between the Mohawks and Quebec and Canada. Simon warned that Quevillon is not learning by his predecessor Mayor Jean Ouellette, who okayed an expansion to the Oka Golf Club into The Pines in 1990 that would have clearcut trees and destroyed a Kanesatake cemetery.
"He chooses to ignore those lessons and still try to propogate another crisis," said Simon. "If he wants to bring the RCMP in here, he's going to take the repercussions of what's going to happen. We want peace, he wants a war. It's that simple."