Whitey, go home

Former Olympians are among 30 residents evicted from Quebec’s Kahnawake reserve

by Martin Patriquin

Photograph by Ian Barrett

About a month ago, Waneek Horn-Miller broke ground on a house in Kahnawake, the native reserve located on Montreal’s South Shore. Horn-Miller, a former Olympian water polo player and a long-time native rights advocate, was seven months into her first pregnancy, and expecting to move there with her boyfriend Keith Morgan, also a former Olympian, in August. Instead, she received word that roughly 60 of her neighbours had delivered a petition to the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake questioning her right to live on the reserve. The reason: Morgan isn’t native. The sentiment was crudely reflected in a note left on the foundation of her new home. “Go back to Lasalle, white man,” it read, an apparent reference to the Montreal neighbourhood on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. (Morgan actually grew up in Calgary.)

Horn-Miller picked a bad time to move back to her community with the man she loves. Acting on 100 or so anonymous tips, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake voted in February to evict 26 non-natives from the reserve in a bid to preserve “our own culture and language,” according to council spokesperson Joe Delaronde. A new batch of roughly 30 eviction notices was sent out last week. Recipients have 10 days to leave.

Though the notices haven’t been particularly successful—only four people have actually left Kahnawake since February, according to council figures—they’ve brought considerable attention, and scorn, to Kahnawake, a community perhaps best known for its steelworkers, smoke shops and massive Internet hosting facilities. There is dissent on the reserve itself, led by a Kahnawake women’s group and fuelled in the pages of the Eastern Door newspaper, whose editor likens the evictions to a witch hunt. Pro- and anti-eviction factions have set up duelling Facebook pages, and an anti-eviction petition will be presented to council next month. The subject dominates council meetings and lunchtime chatter at the Water Drum restaurant.

For all the noise, however, the debate over who should have the privilege of living on Kahnawake’s 11,000 acres has been an abiding part of the reserve’s history since its inception in 1680. Given its proximity to Montreal and its location on the St. Lawrence, the reserve has been something of a melting pot. The confluence of French, Scottish and Irish populations meant there were never actually many “pure” natives living in Kahnawake; visitors, writes researcher Matthieu Sossoyan, who teaches at Vanier College, were often taken by Kahnawake’s “great mixture of blood.”

Nevertheless, the community’s history is rife with attempts to keep the Iroquois culture intact—even if today this culture itself is a vestige of many others. One need only look as far as the nearest phone book: the dominant surnames—Delisle, Delaronde, McComber, to name a few—are products of intermarriage between natives and non-natives.

Coincidentally or not, in 1973 a young Jean Chrétien, then Indian affairs minister, approved Kahnawake’s bylaw to evict non-natives, sparking one of the first modern-day feuds between the band council and anti-eviction groups. As recently as Pierre Trudeau’s tenure, notes Sossoyan, the goal of the federal government was to whittle down the number of people living on reserves until the reserves ceased to exist. “The government tried genocide, and that didn’t work,” says Eastern Door editor Steve Bonspiel. “They tried assimilation, and that didn’t work. Now they are pitting natives against each other, and that’s working because we’re fighting like hell.”

In Horn-Miller’s case, the Mohawk council partly sided with the petitioners: she could stay, but the father of her child had to go. “[Horn-Miller] is not breaching any laws by building the house, and she and her child are welcome to live there,” the council wrote in a press release. “However, if her non-native partner were found to be living in breach of the Kahnawake Membership Law, the MCK would have no choice but to take action against him.”

The question remains: why are they fighting now? It might be a simple equation of demographics and geography. Like many reserves, Kahnawake has trouble retaining, housing and employing its many young people, and the difficult economic climate means fewer jobs and more scapegoating of those who, in the strict sense of the term, don’t belong.

As well, the reserve itself is barely a quarter the size it once was, and though the council is in the midst of several land claims, compensation will come in the form of money, not acres. “We’re all squeezed onto a postage stamp,” says Delaronde, who wouldn’t comment on how council will enforce the evictions should recipients refuse to leave.

Delaronde says the notices are only being sent to “recent arrivals,” who have lived in Kahnawake for three years or less. As well, he says no one with a child with at least one Mohawk parent will be asked to leave; in theory, at least, this means Keith Morgan’s legitimacy in Kahnawake will be confirmed with the birth of his child—though Delaronde cautions that this allowance might be altered in the future.

The uncertainty, and her neighbours’ ire against her family, has left Horn-Miller perplexed and saddened. “I can’t believe it,” she told the Eastern Door newspaper last week. “I never thought in this community, where I have been a positive force and contributed in every way possible, that this would happen to me at my most vulnerable time.”




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Whitey, go home

  1. "Now they are pitting natives against each other…" says Eastern Door editor Steve Bonspiel.
    Actually, I don't think there are any Emperor Palpatine-like forces lurking behind the Kahnawake band council.

    Chretien's 1973 decision came after his widely panned White Paper, so given the choice between exerting control over an aboriginal group or giving them the power over their land, he chose the latter.

  2. actually it is the media that promotes racism by printing such stories…there is never a reprieve especially stories with people who live on reservations which is the fault of the government and now it has its hand full from being deceptive at the onset….

    • actually it is the media that promotes racism by printing such stories

      Can you explain this comment? I don't understand how informing the public about a band decision is racism. The story is similar to the Arizona story, and that one has been covered extensively.

  3. Simple…..any reserve who orders the eviction of non-natives, must also give up the contribution of non-native taxpayers.

    That would settle the matter pretty quickly. Time for a boycott.
    Don't buy the smokes…..don't go to the casino's..etc..etc……

    maybe put up a road-block of your own OUTSIDE the reserve. You can't go in….but they can't get out.

    Justice like that goes both ways….

    • boycott what ever you desire, boycott reserves also while your at fever pitch boycotting! but let me ask you one question, why are you so concerned opinionated envious of these people, do they bother you, why on earth do they offend you? the answer is possibly, jealousy or the ever prevalent demon they call hate…

      • Sorry dlefordtlouis…….I am not in the business of hating anyone except terrorists and their supporters.

        as for natives, can't hate them either…….I have family members who hold status cards. They don't live on reserves, but they also don't accept hand-outs by non-natives and then expect to tell them where to live.

        It's just a matter of simple fairness. I would hold the same contempt for a white neighborhoods that demanded all natives leave the area.

        • Bravo James…from a status Native!

  4. A major Montreal bridge, and two major access routes to that bridge, run right through the territory. Could you propose another suggestion?

    The tax-free smuggled smokes and the cheaper gas and the this-isn't-Canada poker bars and bingo halls attract people who are consciously avoiding Canadian law by going there. Could you explain how to convince these extra-legal Canadian visitors to Mohawk businesses to sign on to your boycott?

  5. Martin, the absurdity that you describe very well is no less nor more absurd because there are a couple of former Olympians involved.

    And the absurdity you describe very well is not even the least of the absurdities inherent in the native reservation mess in which this country finds itself.

    But, if a system is going to set up a class of "special status" Canadians, regardless of whether it is ultimately in the best interests of this class of people, the absurdity you describe very well is pretty much inevitable.

  6. What a sad sad situation. Canada, the unlimited tolerant society. Convicted sexual sadists, such as Karla Holmoka, get a full pardon-ever aspect of her criminality erased. Psychopaths, treated by Canadian Kumbiya therapy, are given day passes. Gingras is one who bolted, went to San Fran and killed someone. In Mcguinty land, Tamils blocked the Gardner-no problem. And in Caledonia Canadians, who flew the flag were arrested for some reason.

    So here's the question. is Canada really happily tolerant or has political correctness, or quest to be different from Americans and that infamous lefty rag, the Toronto Star, rendered us a nation of wimpy, crusty, spineless zombies.

  7. Who on Earth would like to live in a hell hole like that?… well all know that reservations are the worst places to live in Canada, with high indexes of alcoholism, spousal abuse, drug use, unemployment, illiteracy….I have little or no sympathy for them.

    • blame it on the goverment who put us on reserves in the first place n made promises only to break them..over n over….blame it on the goverment who wouldn't allow us to speak our own language n put us in residential school only to get sexuall an physically abused by our so called lovers of GOD…priests n nuns!! blame it on the goverment who only takes our LAND away…….MAYBE YOU SHOULD READ UP ON NATIVES N THEIR ISSUES…A BIT MORE CLOSELY…there are alot of well educated, non alcholic smart ass natives our there..who have jobs, families…..

  8. Sigh. First of all, they're called 'reserves' in Canada, not 'reservations.' Secondly, Frank, you've clearly never been to Kahnawake, which is a lovely community with thriving businesses (and no, not just smoke shops), beautiful homes, good schools, and many dedicated people who work hard to ensure their cultural and linguistic survival. Painting all indigenous communities with the same brush is the worst kind of ignorance; I suggest you actually visit Kahnawake before making gross generalizations about it. And as an aside, do you really have no sympathy for victims of alcoholism, spousal abuse, drug use, unemployment, and illiteracy? You sound like a really kind-hearted, empathetic, humanitarian.

  9. Can you IMAGINE the outrage if the opposite scenario of this occurred outside of a reserve? Her neighbours that signed the petition make me sick.

  10. There is no problem with having a "Chinatown" in every damn city. Whats the problem with this. If they do not like the rules of the land, leave. It is Mohawk land and they decide the rules. Not the 6th generation cosumerist kids of colonial ancestors. If you haven't noticed, Canada is home to many cultures. Each one tries to maintain some form of its original culture. Many groups coalesce in the same neighbourhoods in a city, for an example. This is a simple matter of cultural survival. If the people want to marry outside of their culture. They are free to do so, but you cannot live on the Mohawk reserve. They know the rules so they can now follow them.

  11. Waneek Horn is a beautiful and accomplished young woman; she is the daughter of seventies activist, Kahn Tineta-Horn, also a beautiful and accomplished woman.

    How sad for their people, their place, to take steps against them. How bewildering and sad.

    Why hate? Especially, why hate your own?

    • Waneek is not hated. Her non-native boyfriend is the one that is not welcomed.

    • Of course, Kahn Tineta-Horn is/was a native separatist. One wonders if she signed the petition.

  12. Every community, white, brown or purple, has ignorant people. On the other hand, because of the small parcel of land and the important remnants of their culture they desperately want to hang on to, they are trying to do something about it. Not the most well-thought out, but…

  13. runninggag…the media influences you and i and everyone under the sun, racism is a wide word, reservations are in the width as it includes people of original peoples ancestry displaced as a result of governmental prison system named indian reservation under the indian act which is a racist archaic document as it implies condescension and others better then other people but this is limited as a collective…one defies this by seeking freedom…the original concept of the forefathers…media constantly uses these marginalized people for fodder

  14. Okay, I'm going to try to address your thoughts separately.

    reservations are in the width as it includes people of original peoples ancestry displaced as a result of governmental prison system named indian reservation under the indian act

    A prison implies lack of freedom. No one on a reserve is forced to stay there.

    the indian act which is a racist archaic document as it implies condescension and others better then other people but this is limited as a collective..

    I can't speak to the contents of the Indian Act other than to say that as a historical document, it is expected that it would contain outdated language. Perhaps if you could expand on this other than calling it racist, I could address your argument.

    media constantly uses these marginalized people for fodder

    Citation needed.

  15. you are dissecting every word and these are my opinions from my various personal experiences which i draw from…what you need is a tutor and one should not be coerced to do your assignments or right your thesis! g'day and g'night…best of luck in your studies…

    i have fun in these forums for who cares what people think or what one says…i comment i do not argue, whats the point? other people always lose!

  16. perhaps you should questions yours, silly one…i am unable…..if you so desire then i do, i still remain as….i am as i am…regardless of your opinion…what is truth should be your motto

  17. perhaps you should questions yours

    I do, thus the questions. You claim that the media is systematically promoting racism by reporting on reserve affairs. It is a significant claim, which, at this point, based on my own personal experience, I don't agree with. I'm asking you to back it up so that I can investigate it and, if it is true, change my opinion.

    See how discussion works? I think you have nothing to back up your opinion so you try to talk in circles until someone gives up.

  18. yes you are right on every count you are by far more superior then life itself…your opinion need not be changed you are definitley …it! see how your discussion works…you need verification of your opinions…just have one and ply it…be merciless…go for the jugular….happy?
    enuff of dis discusin…see you in the movies ms. gag

  19. I don't believe that the Chinatowns force you to show proof of Chinese ancestry.

    • But if "the Chinatowns" were government-subsidized enclaves where certain individuals enjoyed special status defined soleley by genetic ancestry of the owners of the sperm and egg that crashed together at B-minus-nine-months, you can be sure "show proof" would inevitably enter into the equation.

      It's very pathetic. What it is not, is unpredictable.

  20. you are dissecting every word

    Your comments run together. In order to respond, I have to break them down.

    i have fun in these forums for who cares what people think or what one says…i comment i do not argue, whats the point? other people always lose!

    That isn't the point of discussion. The point of discussion is to reveal the truth and question preconceived opinions. There is no winner or loser; there is only learning. If you are unable to defend your opinion with objective facts, perhaps you should question your opinions.

  21. Brilliant analysis Kahnawake Lady.

    Sort of like telling your daughter to leave the family home because she's dating a black guy right?

  22. Well, that is marginally better than flipping her car into the Rideau Canal with a sister and an aunt, or setting up a burning cross in the front lawn, or torching their family car.

    Definitely in the same textbook, mind you. But at least a different chapter.

    And yes, it sickens me that the items that came to mind are inspired by incredibly RECENT events. In this country.

  23. They can date anybody they want. It's when they bring them here to live then it is against the community wishes.

    • Oh…I see.

      In that case, try this one on.

      Kahnawake Lady………please feel free to leave the RESERVE, but only for short periods of time. Please feel free to fall in love with a white man, if that is your desire.

      But Please…PLEASE remember that you are NEVER to leave the reserve and live in a white neighborhood, as doing so would negatively affect the property values of the land belonging to your neighbors, and that would go against the community wishes.

      How does it sound now?

      • Native Americans Indians are not allowed to have a homeland? Where should native people go to learn their language and culture? Your own governments have immigration laws!! I wouldn't want to put roots in your neighborhoods anyway. Plants will not grow on concrete. Water is polluted. Air is polluted. You think like individuals only concerned for yourself and you have forgotten your duties to the Earth. Your way of thinking is different. My great grandmother always told me "they are different, just different, once you live among them you'll understand better". Now I do.

        For the record, I was in a relationship with a non-native for seven years. I knew my community would never accept him. I respected the community and never once brought him there. Only when it ended I returned.

        I really try not to argue with people. You can't understand. You are not the minority. You don't share our pain or history. We are trying to survive. Our land keeps getting smaller and smaller. You use up our land for bridges, seaways, train tracts, highways, hydro lines, etc.. We are surrounded by towns and cities. So many that are no longer Mohawk residing here taking up the homes. We want to be "US", we don't want to be "YOU". Get it!!!

        • I would also like to mention that I love the diversity of the World. I love all the different types of trees, all the different birds, all the beautiful flowers and yes to all the different races of the world. I just don't think the world needs to be one color ,one race or one religion. Everything has it's place. Kahnawake just happens to be a place for the Mohawk people. Shame on you on trying to tell us we don't deserve a spot on this Earth or that it is wrong for Mohawk people to love their own people and continue to survive.

          • No, you mean you love the diversity of the World…….as long as it doesn't move in beside your house.

            I bet you have no problem with the white man paying for everything you have though, right?

    • Well then Kahnawake Lady….please STAY ON YOUR RESERVE……….you're ok to visit outside of your territory if you wish, but please don't put down any roots.

      We wouldn't want the property values to be negatively affected. That is against the community wishes.

      How does that sound now Lady?

  24. Funny that no one on the reserve EVER says no to the white man's money.

  25. You pay your taxes to your Government that OWES us Indigenous people for taking OUR land and all OUR natural resources that came with it that makes this country rich. Fair enough?

    • WE owe you nothing.

      Aboriginals have never OWNED land…..they lived on it. When a stronger tribe came along, they pushed the previous tenants out and took over.
      The Europeans were just better at it than you. Suck it up princess.

      As for natural resources………..your ancestors had no idea about ore, oil, or minerals. To your people, natural resources were game, berries, and the odd bit of birch bark.

      How long do you expect "The White Man" to pay your way?

      • The law recognizes Aboriginal title in terms of a range of inherent rights with respect to lands and resources, Crown respect for the existence of Aboriginal title was most consistent during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when settlers and colonial officials still needed or valued Aboriginal people as friends and military allies.

        I'm getting tired of educating you.

  26. Cause you OWE us more than you can ever pay off! Silly ignorant Kanentien.

  27. NO-ONE? I guess that means you James Halifax, know every single community member from Kahnawake?

    • Only when they're blocking the road or starting fires. Why?

  28. A trust of all funds received for leasing of Indian land by white people for farming, grazing leases, timber sales, sale of mineral rights or mineral leases, and things of that nature. The amount charged for these leases is usually far below current market value. <— is that the money you are referring to James Halifax? . Please read some history and facts.

  29. All this chatter….and no one can provide a legitimate argument for kicking this man off the reserve simply because of his skin colour.

    What about one of the THOUSANDS of aboriginal children that were raised by white foster parents. Would they be allowed to live on the reserve?

  30. It's not the color of his skin. I don't care if he was purple. He is not a member of the community!!! You still don't have a point or a valuable argument to sway me. Most of your remarks are in ignorance. Therefore, I will not continue this discussion anymore.

  31. Keith,
    You and Waneek are more than welcome to move to Calgary. You would be welcomed with open arms and there would be no discrimination. It is incredible that after all Waneek and yourself have done for that reserve they would continue to treat you like an outsider.
    It makes me laugh when people refer to this type of obvious discrimination as "preserving the culture." Seriously, does the band believe that a few white people will bring the reserve to its knees? If the band was smart, they would recognize that having white people there only benefits them…it brings in tax dollars, shows that they are compassionate not racist. It doesn't sound like this band council has the wisdom to recognize this, therefore I question why anyone would want to live under that sphere of influence.
    your bro

  32. Just preserving the culture, right? Ah yes, the anthem of the RACIST. That’s right, RACIST. I know many cultures think that the word exists for just white people, but it doesn’t. It is a word we can share with all cultures. Especially when they are being one. You can say about how you are preserving the purity of your culture all you like. It all equals one word, RACIST. Let me put it to you this way. Imagine if it was a white culture trying to preserve their heritage and saying that a First Nations person was not a part of the community? Oh dear! I shudder to think! It would be front page news! So, since this band is taking a racist stance. Allow me to offer some slogans that white people get fed all the time. Dear good people of Kahnawake, “don’t hate. Can’t we all just get along? Live and let live, Diversity! All colours are beautiful! You need to be colour blind! Free your mind and the rest will follow. Give peace a chance! etc.” Remember, just because your skin is a different colour does not mean you are exempt from the racist label. You are all racist and need to be educated in diversity and learn how to get along with others. Wanting to preserve your culture or purge your culture is out of the question. Learn to mix with other races. White people MUST do it all the time or we get the same label that I am pinning on you. You are, racist. Welcome to our world.

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