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‘Symbol of the atrocities done to us’: Indigenous women want Montreal cross taken down

Click to play video: '‘Mohawk Mothers’ group wants cross on Mont-Royal taken down'
‘Mohawk Mothers’ group wants cross on Mont-Royal taken down
WATCH: Mohawk Mothers group wants cross on Mont-Royal taken down – May 1, 2022

A group of Indigenous women in Quebec are saying it’s time to have the landmark cross that rests on top of Mont-Royal and marks Montreal’s skyline taken down.

“We want this cross removed because it’s a symbol of all of the atrocities that have been done to us,” said Kwetiio, who is part of the Mohawk Mothers group that says the cross is on unceded Indigenous land and is a constant reminder of the pain caused by the Catholic Church.

Kahentinetha, also part of the group, said “it represents genocide, it represents murder, it represents all the things that the church has done.”

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In a statement to Global News, the City of Montreal said that while continuing the process of reconciliation with Indigenous communities, it plans on keeping the landmark that has been on top of the summit of the mountain since 1924 and illuminates the city’s night sky.

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A part of the city’s reconciliation strategy has included the renaming of Amherst Street to Atateken Street, which means “brothers and sisters” in the Mohawk language.

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As for Montreal’s archdiocese, it says it believes reconciliation can be “best achieved through respectful dialogue and (the Montreal Catholic Church) would be available to meet with the group of Mohawk women to discuss any way the church can support them on the healing journey,” but has no plan on supporting the removal of the Christian symbol.

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According to historian Donovan King, there is a possibility that the land on top of the mountain also holds unmarked Indigenous graves.

“When the Europeans opened their own burial grounds in the 1850s, they discovered that they were actually burying their dead upon Indigenous cemeteries,” King said.

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Although the removal of the cross could be considered excessive to some, Donovan says there is a precedent of other crosses that have been taken down across the country and province.

The group of women, who are currently in a legal battle against McGill University and the City of Montreal over the Royal-Victoria expansion project, say they haven’t ruled out adding the removal of the cross to their lawsuit.

— with files from Robert MacGregor, Global News

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