Kanehsatà:ke community members upset by large gathering on Mohawk land

·2 min read
Quebec provincial police were stationed outside the venue, but did not issue tickets for the gathering. (Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Quebec provincial police were stationed outside the venue, but did not issue tickets for the gathering. (Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A large gathering near a highway in the Mohawk territory of Kanehsatà:ke on Saturday has upset community members and Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon, as well as the mayor of the neighbouring town of Oka.

The party was organized on social media and videos posted online show hundreds of people dancing outside.

Many people were crowded together and not wearing masks. Most had come from outside the community, Simon said.

"We had nothing to do with this," he told CBC on Sunday.

Simon said the party organizers had not received permission from the community, and that several people had parked in private driveways.

"It was a shameful, a shameful example of what real disrespect is," Simon told CBC. "These party-goers come into our territory acting as if they own the place and they have absolutely no respect for our members."

Provincial police officers were stationed outside, but they did not issue any tickets related to public health violations or public drinking.

They did have checkpoints for drinking and driving as people left.

Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon said in a Facebook post that it was disappointing that the Sûreté du Québec did not do more to control the gathering.

Simon said he spoke with Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière Saturday evening about the lack of police intervention.

Saturday evening, SQ spokesperson Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau told CBC officers were monitoring the area and making sure traffic was flowing and that people were following public health measures.

When asked about the event during a news conference on Sunday, Premier François Legault said he wasn't pleased to see images of the party circulating on social media.

"We had some discussions with the Sûreté du Québec this morning," Legault said. "These people run the risk of getting tickets."

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