(Québec) A reconciliation process between the Mayor of Oka and the Grand Chief of Kanesatake was undertaken on Friday, the second day of the First Nations and Municipal Summit, which is taking place in the Quebec City region.
After a few months of intense tension, Kanesatake Mohawk Band Chief Serge Simon and Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon presented themselves side by side in front of reporters to confirm their willingness to work together to resolve their differences about issues that affect both communities.
They were accompanied by Konrad Sioui, Grand Chief of the Wendake Huron Reserve.
Grand Chief Simon, who was smiling, greeted the Mayor of Oka, saying he had shown a lot of courage by engaging in a process of rapprochement.
For his part, Pascal Quevillon acknowledged that it was time for the two leaders to turn the page and look forward for the good of both communities because that is why they were elected. The mayor was emotional, speaking briefly to the reporters.
At the beginning of the summer, Mayor Quevillon offended many Aboriginal people by expressing his fear of being landlocked by Kanesatake during a land surrender process. He said then that the value of Oka's properties would decrease and he had feared an increase in the number of cannabis and cigarette dealers.
Grand Chief Simon then repeatedly asked him to apologize, but to no avail. He criticized him for using colonialist language and making racist statements in his opposition to the surrender of land to Aboriginal people.
Five weeks ago, the Grand Chief of Kanesatake and the Mayor of Oka met in Montreal for separate meetings with Marc Miller, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Aboriginal Relations and Quebec Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Sylvie D 'Loves in Montreal.
The two men did not speak directly to each other and Mr. Simon announced that he was breaking off all communication with his counterpart until the latter offered an apology.
On Friday, Grand Chief Simon affirmed with Mayor Quevillon that they had both benefited from the support of other elected officials from their respective communities to begin their rapprochement.