AKWESASNE – On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne welcomed the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, to the community of Akwesasne.
In February 2018, the Prime Minister announced the launch of a national engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Metis people that will assist in the development of a Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework. Minister Bennett, who is leading this engagement, will meet with various Indigenous groups on legislative and policy changes to reform government policies and practices and to ensure that the federal government action recognizes Indigenous rights.
Grand Chief Abram Benedict invited Minister Bennett to discuss the framework that the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has begun to develop, to highlight some of the accomplishments within our community and to also identify some of the challenges we face.
During the gathering on Kawehno:ke, several members of Council discussed the Akwesasne Self-Government Agreement and discussed our current governing structures.
District Chief of Tsi Snaihne, Connie Lazore noted that, “Canada needs to respect and honor our rights. Only then can a framework be developed.” She also added that “Each First Nation community is unique. There are over 634 communities and we should not be made to fit into a Rights Framework developed by Canada. We have been doing that long enough; Canada now needs to fit into our framework.”
Representatives from the Mohawk Nation also presented on Iroquois Wampum Belts and provided a historical snapshot on principled self-governance. The Aboriginal Rights and Research Office (ARRO) provided an overview on the History of Akwesasne. Additionally, Minister Bennett provided information on this national engagement on the recognition of Indigenous rights, and what she hopes to accomplish.
Grand Chief noted that “Akwesasne is already in a self-government process with Canada, but we welcome other initiatives and framework discussion that will complement the work we doing here in Akwesasne, particularly in our multi-jurisdiction community. I hope this commitment to a partnership from the federal government will only advance our community priorities.”