Kahnawake Mohawks Oppose RCMP Escort for Olympic Torch
Jordan Standup, The Eastern Door, December 2009, http://www.easterndoor.com/feature/olympic-torch-issue-heats-community
The Mohawk Council’s announcement last week that the Olympic torch would be passing through Kahnawake on its way to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver has become a hot issue.
The Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake (Longhouse on Route 207) issued a statement this week saying that it did not support the Olympic torch run through the community scheduled for next Tuesday.
“We must seriously consider the ongoing struggle of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in British Columbia who endeavor to prevent the Government of Canada from further commandeering and expropriating their traditional territory,” the statement reads.
Monday’s statement goes on to note that the longhouse was concerned over the possibility of an RCMP escort though the community, which was confirmed by the MCK the following day.
The longhouse said they would use the Warriors to keep the RCMP out but would not interfere with the torch itself.
The longhouse has also asked that anyone who plans to watch the relay not fly Warrior or Haudenosaunee flags.
“It’s disappointing to see that the MCK supports the RCMP escort,” said longhouse secretary Kenneth Deer.
He said the community is also unaware of when and where the negotiations took place to allow the torch, and more specifically the RCMP, to come through.
“Who negotiated it and when was it agreed?” Deer said. “It seems to us that the decision was only made last week at the eleventh hour.”
He also said he felt the MCK has ‘screwed up’ with this issue.
“If the torch is going to come through, since it seems the decision has already been made, the presence of the RCMP isn’t necessary. That’s why we have Peacekeepers,” he said. “The MCK should have negotiated that the RCMP was not allowed to come through.”
Earlier this week, the longhouse sent an invitation to the MCK to meet tomorrow to discuss this issue as well as the Community Decision-Making Process, but according to Deer, the request was declined yesterday and the MCK said it would give the longhouse a list of possible dates to meet.
“They better make up their mind,” said MCK Chief Rhonda Kirby. “What’s the problem? Is it the Olympic torch? Is it what’s happening to the people in B.C.? Or is it the RCMP? The need to decide what they really are protesting,” “I think it’s disappointing that they’re asking the community to boycott it because they’re asking the community to do their bidding,” she said. “There’s bigger issues that we need to deal with and if that much energy was put into solving our own issues in the community, we’d all be in a better place.”
Kirby said she preferred to focus on the positive aspects of the event, which is being organized by Team Mohawk Spirit.
“We hope it’s a very successful and safe event for the community,” she said. “This is something really positive for the community to be involved in. Kirby believes that the relay would serve as inspiration for Kahnawake’s athletes.
“The amount of athletes we have is amazing,” she said. “I wonder how communities of our size have had two Olympians. It’s something to be proud of.”
The torch is scheduled to arrive in the community between 12:00-12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Kahnawake’s own Olympic gold and bronze medalist Alwyn Morris will run with the torch from the tunnel to Karonhianonhna School for a short ceremony.