Amanda Deer, Non-Native Boyfriend Driven From Kahnawake Home By Protesters

CBC - Amanda Deer, non-native boyfriend driven from Kahnawake home by protesters

CBC – Amanda Deer, non-native boyfriend driven from Kahnawake home by protesters

CBC News

A couple and an 11-year-old boy were driven out of their home on a Quebec reserve by people protesting the presence of the woman’s non-native boyfriend.

There are mixed opinions as to why residents of the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal are protesting the relationship between Amanda Deer and her non-native boyfriend.

Protesters gathered outside Deer’s home Sunday and demanded the family leave. She said she’s not sure whether protesters were there because her boyfriend has a criminal record, or if it’s because they were trying to enforce a territory law that says any Mohawk who marries or lives with a non-native must move away.

“Two people in the pro-eviction [group] and they were trying to break my front door down. They started handling the handle, banging on the door, banging on the porch, Deer said.

“People were on the side of my porch in the back where the pool is. I had the back door gate locked by the pool, they’re trying to kick it in. ‘Get the f–k out of here, get the hell out of here. We want him out!’ And the police are standing there doing nothing.”

Many of the protesters at her house, however, have attended prior protests over membership issues in Kahnawake.

Deer said she and her family decided to temporarily leave their home, fearing for their safety.

Protesters also told CBC News and Radio-Canada reporters to leave Kahnawake on Sunday.

Michael Jacobs says he's afraid of his neighbour's boyfriend, a non-native living on the Mohawk reserve with Amanda Deer. (CBC)

Michael Jacobs says he’s afraid of his neighbour’s boyfriend, a non-native living on the Mohawk reserve with Amanda Deer. (CBC)

Boyfriend accused of violence

But Deer’s neighbour, Michael Jacobs, said the protesters’ actions were because the boyfriend has spent time behind bars and was released back into the community on Friday.

“The guy’s a violent felon and we took it very seriously,” Jacobs said. “I haven’t slept for four days.”

Grand Chief Mike Delisle said he doesn’t believe the protesters were targeting Deer because of her blended family, but rather because of her boyfriend’s reputation and because a court ordered the boyfriend to remain in Kahnawake as a condition of his release from jail.

“Case workers, court workers, or what have you, should realize and understand that putting a condition on a non-native individual to reside in the territory isn’t going to work,” Delisle said.

Eviction policy

The controversy surrounding Kahnawake’s “marry out, stay out” policy has spurred much consternation among Mohawks living on the land just south of Montreal.

The policy has been in place since 1981, but has not been widely enforced.

Kahnawake protest

Earlier in May, people in Kahnawake protested in front of the home of another mixed couple – a Mohawk and non-native. (CBC)

The rule means Mohawks who marry non-natives have to leave the community of about 8.000 residents. Over the years, some have left by their own accord, but others have chosen to stay despite Kahnawake’s membership law.

In 2010, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake voted to evict 26 non-natives.

The controversy then began anew last year, when some people living in Kahnawake said they were being intimidated by pro-eviction protesters.

Many families since then have been targeted by people insisting they vacate the premises, including Marvin and Terry McComber, Cheryl Diabo and Waneek Horn-Miller.

Some of them are in the process of suing the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake over the eviction policy.

Geoff Kelley, the Quebec minister responsible for native affairs, said last week that he is concerned for the safety of the mixed Mohawk and non-native families.

1 thought on “Amanda Deer, Non-Native Boyfriend Driven From Kahnawake Home By Protesters

  1. Buffy Rebekah-Beth Turner

    as a non-Kanienkehaka, it’s not my place to say anything about what the people of Kahnawake decide for their community. but as a Native, it does hurt my heart and soul to hear about such violent strife and such an unclear path forward. I’m sure the people of the community are already grappling with all of this, but as an outsider, these are the questions that rise up …

    – what are the real issues for people that underlie this action, and the other recent protests?

    – what space/leadership exists in the community to hold open discussions about those issues, in a safe place, guided by Kanienkehaka traditions from pre-reserve/pre-Indian Act times? what do traditional Elders counsel?

    – how does the expulsion or destruction of families impact the next generations – and are children with Kanienkehaka plus other ancestry included in those next generations? if they are, spiritually, how will removing them from their home community (or from a parent) affect their wellbeing and ability to live as good Kanienkehaka?

    – how much of this is about non-Native residents being ignorant of or disrespectful about Kanienkehaka culture and laws? could that be addressed by requiring them to get educated? be tested? sign a code of conduct that would kick them out, no questions asked, if they violated it? what about requiring non-Kanienkehaka or non-Native partners to give back to the community in meaningful ways? what about allowing married couples (those who have made a long-term commitment) to stay, but not more- casual partners?

    – how much of this is about the violation of Kahnawake sovereignty when a Canadian court orders a non-Kanienkehaka to reside on Kahnawake land? that seems like a Nation-to-Nation and treaty issue, with enormous implications. are there more effective ways to enforce sovereignty than kicking individuals out after Canada’s violation has already occurred?

    – how much of this is about preserving bloodlines/blood quanta? if this is important spiritually, within Kanienkehaka traditions (and I have no idea whether or not that’s the case), are there strategies that could be used that bring the community together rather than making Kanienkehaka (and other people) afraid in their homes? what about incentives for children with two Kanienkehaka or Kanienkehaka plus other Native parents? more social events to introduce people throughout reserve and urban Kanienkehaka populations? matchmakers? ways to promote what the community defines as Kanienkehaka families, rather than punishing more complex ones?

    – how much of this is about Native people wanting a space that’s not increasingly populated by people whose ancestors were the perpetrators of genocide (and who continue to benefit from the genocidal whitestream colonizer system of oppression whether or not they want to)? it’s not an unreasonable feeling to have. could it be addressed with a core community area where only Kanienkehaka may reside, with a surrounding buffer that welcomes blended Kanienkehaka families?

    – how much of this is about the risk of non-Kanienkehaka claiming a right of residence or property ownership even if they’re no longer part of a Kanienkehaka family? could that be addressed in pretty straightforward legal agreements? if Kahnawake already has laws to exclude people based on their blood ties to the Nation, can they also take the less radical step of legally and enforceably restricting inheritance/occupancy/ownership?

    – how much of this is about wanting to decide what kinds of people (i.e., those with criminal records) are allowed in the community? certainly most nations in the world get to decide who can immigrate. has Kahnawake decided which crimes – or what future criminal actions – warrant exclusion? do or should any of those apply to Kanienkehaka people as well?

    – is a grandfathering policy for current residents, combined with restricted future immigration based on any or all of the above, a more positive and effective strategy than dismantling or driving out families who are already part of the community? given that the expulsion laws have existed for some time, who in the community is empowered to choose when they will be enforced, and who they will be enforced against?

    – and finally, regardless of the solutions chosen, are there traditional Kanienkehaka ways to achieve them that don’t involve frightening people or harming families or the next generation? the anger is understandable, the issues are enormous, the roots of the problem go so deep. which tools and solutions are Kanienkehaka, which come from the legacy of having being colonized, and how can the community come together to choose the best ones?

    I know some of the thoughts above might seem morally repugnant. as a woman whose grandmothers come from more than one continent, they’re not necessarily what my own heart would want. but the questions seem like they’re worth asking, in case any of them help illuminate a better path forward.


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