Yesterday afternoon, a small crowd of media and concerned Montrealers gathered near the Mordecai Richler lookout to hear from two groups united by their experiences at the hands of the Catholic Church. The press conference, organized by the Milton Park Citizens’ Committee, was announced in response to the Pope’s visit and apology, deemed insufficient by the Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera, or Mohawk Mothers — the first group to take the word.
The Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera are currently challenging McGill University’s planned project at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
The project, for which excavations are due to begin in October, will disrupt the fact that the fear of the Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera may hold as yet undiscovered evidence of settler abuse of Indigenous children, as well as other evidence of the university involvement in controversial human experiments. , including MK Ultra.
A swarm of journalists listen to one of the Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera, center left wearing a beige hat.Willa Holt | MTL Blog
One of the Mohawk mothers, Kahentinentha, from the Bear Clan, explained that the women need access to the McGill archives, which they say they have not been able to consult so far. She also said the Doctrine of Discovery “must be revoked.”
The doctrine supports the right of European Christians to claim and settle land in North America in the name of advancing religion. The Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera categorically refuse to accept this. “This is our land. We have been here since time immemorial,” Kahentinentha said. “We have duties and responsibilities to this land.”
The second group was made up of men identifying themselves as Orphans of Duplessis — Quebec children who were taken from their homes under the guise of mental health treatment and who ultimately suffered abuse, including heartbreaking sexual trauma, at the hands of Catholic nurses and priests. The Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera expressed their solidarity with this struggle, in particular one woman, named Kwetiio.
A crowd gathered to listen to Kwetiio (center) speak.Willa Holt | MTL Blog
She explained that the Mount Royal Cross, a symbol of Christian power, is also a painful reminder of the abuse and suffering that her people have suffered and continue to suffer. Kwetiio described the pain of seeing such a symbol in the area calledMount Royal, more precisely.
Known as tekanontak in Kanienʼkehá, the Mohawk language, this area is an important gathering and communication site for the Kanienʼkehá:ka (the Mohawk people). To have such an important place topped with a reminder of abuse is deeply painful for the Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera, Kwetiio explained. “For us, it’s a symbol of disaster,” she said. “It’s a symbol of torture. […] It’s not welcome on my land, and it never will be.”
“It has to come down,” she continued. “[The cross] must go down. »
Kwetiio explained that she didn’t want these issues to “become white noise” for the public, nor more questions about what settlers can do to help – settlers should already be thinking for themselves, he said. she argued. “I want everyone to open their minds,” she said, “and think about how to help.”
Closing the conference, a representative of the Citizens’ Committee of Milton Park, Darcy Seekaskootch, made a moving statement. “I believe that to lay [our babies] to rest, to return to the land is a necessity,” they said. “We need to free ourselves from colonization.