Kahnawà:ke -The Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke has voted to remove the remains of Jesuit priest Fr., Leon Lajoie, a priest facing sexual abuse allegations in the community .
The communtiy voted on the weekend 223 votes to remove his remains and 195 votes to leave his remains in their current resting place.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said it received and accepted the results of the community poll regarding the remains of Fr. Leon Lajoie.
Lajoie was a Jesuit priest assigned to Kahnawake from 1961 to 1990. This past summer there were several allegatons of sexual abuse and demands his remains be removed from the community. Father Léon Lajoie, had been buried on the grounds of Saint-Francois-Xavier in 1999.
His remains will be moved to Saint-Jérôme, Que., at the Jesuits’ gravesite.
The Mohawk Council said it initiated the poll after engagement sessions with Kahnawa’kehró:non in November, 2021. The sessions indicated that the community should determine the outcome of this matter.
The MCK is now holding talks wiith the Jesuit Order to begin the process to obtain the proper legal authorizations to exhume the remains of Fr. Leon Lajoie. The community has provided clear direction and this will be the final decision in this matter, a statement reads.
“This has been a very difficult period for our people and we are aware that the results of this poll may have provided resolution for some whereas for others it has caused great pain,” said Ietsénhaienhs Tonya Perron. “We only hope that the path moving forward paves the way for healing for everyone. We encourage anyone in need of mental and/or emotional support to reach out for it.,” the MCK statement says
As previously announced, the Jesuit Order and Diocese of St-Jean Longueil have confirmed that they will respect the wishes of the community and lead all actions towards a resolution and absorb all related costs. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke will be collaborating with them to ensure that the removal and relocation takes place in a timely, respectful and legal manner and will inform the community of next steps moving forward, the statement said.