One of the five candidates for the job of Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) said she is looking to build consensus and unify the people of Kahnawake under one banner – bringing Traditional people and progressives together – and coalescing the community in order to harness and protect its rare culture, heritage and place in the world, said Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer. The 41-year-old has spent the last 12 years on council paying her dues and learning the community’s files from the inside out, and said she feels it’s time for her to step up, inspire and lead the community forward into the next few years at least. “You have to walk before you can run,” she said. “I’ve spent the last 12 years on council. I grew up here and I’m very fond of Kahnawake. I believe the possibilities are endless and with leadership and positivity, we can achieve anything. Kahnawake is a large village; everyone here is connected in some way and we need to address issues collectively.” Sky-Deer believes she can be the person to unite the diverse ways of considering the world in the community. “We need someone who can bring together the Traditional people in the Longhouse, people on council, Elders in the community. Working collaboratively, we can achieve anything, but only if we are all pulling in the right direction,” she said. “Council can’t do it alone. The Longhouse can’t do it alone. We have to find a way to move forward together.” First elected the MCK in 2009, Sky-Deer “spent her thirties in public service,” and hopes to continue to do so after the summer and into the fall should she be elected Grand Chief. Sky-Deer also said the time is right for the Mohawks of Kahnawake and other First Nations and Indigenous people to reclaim their natural place in the world. “I think now is the right time for Indigenous people to rise up and assert ourselves, our rights and our place in the world. It’s our responsibility,” she said, pointing to the recent grisly discovery of 215 children’s bodies in a, unmarked grave outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. “It’s our responsibility to show and share our knowledge with the world in terms of environmental protections and for us to be stewards of our own culture and identity. I want the world to know we are still here. We are still proud. Something’s coming. I can feel it and I want to lead it and inspire our community. I want to help make Kahnawake the incredible place I know it can be,” she said. MCK elections are slated for July 3 with advance polls open June 26.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase