November 12, 2015 6:02 pm
Updated: November 12, 2015 7:29 pm

Kahnawake natives protest Saint Lawrence sewage dump

WATCH ABOVE: Kahawake Mohawks have been staging protests near the Mercier Bridge over the Saint Lawrence sewage dump. As Amanda Jelowicki reports, the protests may get more inconvenient for commuters.


KAHNAWAKE – A small group of First Nations Mohawks from Kahnawake have set up a makeshift camp at the foot of the Mercier Bridge, in protest of Montreal’s decision to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the Saint Lawrence River.

A tent sits next to a bonfire, to give shelter to protesters stationed overnight; a picnic table covered with food feeds people who come and go throughout the day.

Two old friends keep warm by the fire.

They told Global News the protest is small, but it’s an important one.

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READ MORE: Mayor Denis Coderre descends into sewage interceptor

They want the wider community to know how upset they are with the sewage dump.

The two insist water must be respected, and they can’t believe their sacred river is being desecrated.

“It’s the liquid of life,” said Tekarontake.

“If we make it so we can’t use, it how long do we expect to live? What is the future for our children, grandchildren?”

“I’m very worried,” said protestor Tiorahkwathe.

“I have two grandchildren. I want them to have a future.”

It’s not just the older generation getting involved.

High schoolers at Kahnawake’s Survival School have discussed the issue for weeks.

On Wednesday, almost the entire school staged a lunchtime walkout, marching to the Mercier Bridge and back.

“We hope it will make people think,” said Otiahori Johnson, one of the organizers of the protest and a clan leader.

“Maybe it will make people feel bad and make them do more research on safer alternatives.”

For two straight nights, some locals also blocked access to one lane of the Mercier Bridge and drivers had to detour to another on-ramp.

READ MORE: The Saint Lawrence sewage dump is underway

It’s an inconvenience, but the bridge has remained open.

There are rumours brewing in town, though, that may not last.

“You are basically turning our allies against us it will make Kahnawake look bad and you can’t do that,” said Johnson, adding the issue dividing the community.

The band council doesn’t endorse the move, but they understand people are unhappy.

“We realize people are upset and when people are upset they do things,” it said.

Clan leaders and various individuals are meeting Thursday night to discuss their next steps.

While they said their Mercier Bridge blockade will likely remain largely symbolic,  there is a chance some may choose to go further, and block access to the bridge entirely.

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