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Kahnawake celebrates International Women’s Day

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WATCH: Members of the Mohawk community in Kahnawake gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, the women in the community are asking the government for more consultations with indigenous peoples in Canada – Mar 8, 2020

A fire still burns at a protest camp just beside route 132 in Kahnawake south of Montreal.

Members of the Mohawk community set up the meeting place in continued solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, after the Mohawks dismantled their railway blockade across the street March 5.

READ MORE: Exo’s Candiac train line back up and running after dismantlement of Kahnawake rail blockade

Sunday, for International Women’s Day, there was a gathering around the fire to reinforce an old message in a different way.  That message was expressed in a letter to Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that was read aloud during the ceremony.  It was meant to explain why they were supporting the Wet’suwet’en, and what women need to do to help fight for a cause they say goes beyond just their community.

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Sandra Owén:nakon Deer-Standup read the letter.

“Mrs. Trudeau and all the women across Canada and the world,” she read, “will there be clean water for your children to drink, clean air to breathe, healthy lands to plant healthy foods?”

The ceremony was put together by women in Kahnawake. One of the organizers, Sakakohe Debbie Delisle, explained that because of their traditional role as women in their culture, they felt that it was their duty to speak to other women.

“We are caretakers of the land, life-givers, titleholders of the land and we’re responsible for our children, and our children’s children and for children yet to be born,” she told Global News.

READ MORE: Kahnawake Mohawks demand Indigenous rights be upheld as rail blockade peacefully ends

Delisle said they want more consultations with Indigenous peoples within Canada.

“[It’s about] respect, friendship and trust, you know? And that needs to happen.”
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Katsi’tsi:io Splicer also attended the event, and during the opening tobacco ceremony, she said that’s what was on her mind too.

“When I had my tobacco in my hand, I asked that the rest of the world really try and understand our perspective, our point of view on how we live in this world,” she said.

The letter was sent to the prime minister’s wife and now they’re waiting for a reply. For now, they plan to keep the fire burning — not just as a sign of protest, but as a symbol for unity, and hope.

“The message is clear,” Delisle said, “that the unity is important for us as a people, right across Canada and the nations.”

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