This letter is response to the editorial in Volume 23 Number 47 of the Eastern Door on Friday, November 28th: “Limiting public consultations is wrong“, written by Steve Bonspiel. The response below was sent to the Eastern Door and printed in the Number 28th issue.
On behalf of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK), and as negotiator for the Seigneury of Sault St. Louis (SSSL), I am taking opportunity to respond to your November 28th, 2014 editorial entitled “Limiting public consultations is wrong”.
In mid-November, the MCK proactively held a Press Scrum to inform media of the upcoming SSSL Community Consultations on Lands, and to discuss/announce some media restrictions that would be in effect to ensure this remains a community-oriented process. At the Press Scrum, we explained that the SSSL Negotiations are guided by a Negotiations Protocol that includes confidentiality requirements. Confidentiality requirements are a normal part of any negotiations and encourage full and frank discussion at the table. As far as SSSL Negotiations are concerned, the MCK ensured that the confidentiality requirements would respect the need for full and open disclosure of all negotiations information to those who have had to bear this grievance for hundreds of years: Kahnawa’kehró:non. The SSSL consultation process is exactly about that, the MCK meaningfully engaging in direct dialogue with Kahnawa’kehró:non about SSSL Negotiations matters. We need that direction to guide us to resolution that accurately reflects our community’s perspective, values and needs.
It is important to remember that while our community members are the target audience, the readership of local papers is not limited to Kahnawa’kehró:non. Information that reaches external audiences on the SSSL Negotiations, details and strategy could have adverse repercussions and be detrimental to reaching resolution to this grievance. Let’s agree to keep this dialogue where it belongs, in the minds and the voices of our community.
In light of your observations concerning the choice of the Golden Age Club as a venue for the launch, we would like to express that the consultation session was far from being a one-time opportunity. The December 2nd session marked the beginning of a consultation process that will stretch over at least 2 months, and may be extended and adapted to suit the community’s needs as much as possible. A combination of approaches will be offered, including: community sessions, kiosks, family visits, smaller group discussions and online feedback. In short, Kahnawa’kehró:non will have plenty of opportunities to have their say, and the December 2nd session was just the start. It is now up to Kahnawa’kehró:non to engage.
Michael Ahríhron Delisle Jr
Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke