KAHNAWAKE, QC, May 20, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – (20, Onerahtohkó:wa) The Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) youth of Kahnawà:ke formally declare to the Government of Quebec that they strongly oppose Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebecwhich is proposed by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) aimed at strengthening the Charter of the French language (Law 101).
First, the Kanien’kehá:ka are, and always have been, a sovereign nation in this territory. We are the original people of this land and have always stood by our claim that we are the sole custodians of our territory, our culture and our language. Regardless of the centuries of colonial impositions imposed on our people, we remain strong, defiant and proud of who we are as Onkwehón:we (original people). We hold our Elders, our families, our cultural warriors and our Kanien’ké:ha (Mohawk language) speakers in the highest regard.
While Bill 96 is described as a proposal to improve the French language and culture, it is yet another legislative policy that puts more obstacles in the way of our future and all that we appreciate. It is designed to progress Quebec nationalism, as it forces the destruction of our national identity by minimizing the efforts our people have made to revitalize our culture and language.
“Quebeclike us, has every right to protect his beloved language and culture, but this must not come at the expense of others… the Kanien’kehá:ka, other Indigenous peoples and anyone who speaks languages other than French,” said Kanien’kehá:ka youth spokesperson Teiotsatonteh Diabo. “The way this legislation elevates the French language by force not only disregards the rights of other cultures and languages, but is an outright attack on everyone but the French.”
While government officials say the implications of the bill are seemingly minor, experts make clear that there is potential for devastating impacts that will create even more hurdles for Indigenous peoples. It will become more and more difficult to pursue higher education by having to take more courses in French, this severely limits our choices to enter professional orders unless we speak French and access to government and commercial services will become extremely difficult if we have no choice but to read, write or speak in the language of our choice.
“A lot of young people are already worried that if this bill passes they will be forced to go to college or work outside the province because they won’t be able to communicate in French,” Diabo continued. “We will see more failures in the education system, lower grades and fewer opportunities to get into college-level programs. I don’t wish that on myself, my peers or anyone else.”
The proposed legislation is a direct attack on peaceful relations between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. We need only look at the history of the original Two Row Wampum Treaty that our ancestors made with the settlers. The two lines in the wampum represent the two distinct peoples: the canoe (Indigenous) and the ship (non-Indigenous). At no time do the ships pass each other, which is symbolic of the ideology that one’s business never interferes with the other. Continued oppressive policies like this bill not only violate that treaty, but they do so at the expense, again, of our people.
What we as a collective need to understand is that we are navigating the same waters and always need to be mindful of other people’s business. The CAQ’s failure to truly and adequately consult with our people is a total disregard for Indigenous self-determination, a total disregard for Indigenous cultures and languages, and a flagrant violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Kanien’kehá:ka Youth of Kahnawà:ke are requiring a judgment of this legislation. We have mobilized to ensure that every effort is made to protect the future of our young people and the seven generations to come. We are at a crossroads where, as Kanien’kehá:ka, our English-speaking neighbors, Quebecers and all other allies must take a stand to do what is right. It is time to change the colonial legacy of assimilation that this country has practiced for centuries. It’s time to come together and take a stand. Say NO to Bill 96.
We call on our brothers and sisters, our neighboring communities, our friends and allies to join us as we send our message to supporters of this bill. To 9:30 a.m. on SaturdayMay 21st, the Kanien’kehá:ka Youth, supported by the community of Kahnawà:ke, will organize a peaceful march on our territory. We aim to educate, while sending a strong message that we will not stand idly by in the face of imposition.
This march is just the beginning of the kind of action we will take until our voices are heard, our concerns are addressed, and our right to exist without interference is respected. We won’t stop until we have a resolution, we won’t back down.
The Kanien’kehá:ka Youth of Kahnawà:ke
Kahnawà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka Youth
SOURCE Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
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