MONTREAL — The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is blasting the Quebec government for questioning a land acknowledgment by the Montreal Canadiens that refers to the unceded territory of the Mohawk Nation.
The statement, which has been read before the NHL team's home games this season, acknowledges the hospitality of the Mohawk Nation "on this traditional and unceded territory where we are gathered today.''
Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafreniere told reporters on Wednesday the acknowledgment may be an error.
In a statement Thursday, the elected council for the First Nations reserve across the river from Montreal commended the hockey club's gesture as an example of true reconciliation and added it was "repulsed'' by the province's attempt to politicize the effort, which it said undermines the Mohawk presence in the Montreal region.
On Wednesday, Lafreniere told reporters that referring to a specific nation may be a mistake as historians differ on which nation was the first to live in Montreal, while adding it was important to recognize that First Nations were the first occupants.
Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said in a statement that land is an essential part of Mohawk identity.
"It holds the knowledge of our ancestors, our history and our presence, now and for the future,'' Sky-Deer said. "Opinionated commentary that challenge and discredit our presence are not only insulting, they are taken as displaced attacks on our existence.''