Productive discussions at Iroquois Caucus

By Eve Cable

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A two-day meeting of the Iroquois Caucus took place in Ottawa this week, with Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chiefs Tonya Perron and Iohahi:io Delisle bringing topics and concerns relevant to the community to the table.


With 21 items in total on the agenda, the meeting was a busy one, with many key points of discussion focusing on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Action Plan, which is Canada’s act for its implementation.


“There was a presentation done by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN*), and they raised a number of concerns about the action plan, and I also brought forward to the caucus a letter that we had sent out to minister Lametti about all of our concerns with the action plan,” Perron said. “Some were similar to those raised by the AFN, and some went even further.”


The caucus discussed issuing a formal position on the shortcomings of the action plan, with Perron noting that their voices are especially strong as a collective. Concerns were shared across all the communities.


“First of all, there was not enough consultation,” Perron said.

“Part of that concern is that the action plan doesn’t go far enough in setting out how they are going to actually implement the act in a meaningful way.


Perron and Delisle also had a 45-minute meeting with minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller. They raised a 10-year discussion about a controversial land settlement claim by the Algonquins of Ontario that Kahnawake opposes, as well as bill C-21 and its potential impacts on Indigenous Peoples.


“We talked about the list of 300 or so guns listed that will potentially be targeted as illegal,” explained Perron. “We brought to his attention Bill C-21 and those concerns that we have, and the fact that (MCK chief) Jessica Lazare presented in front of the standing committee on that too.”


Discussions were productive overall, according to Perron, but the Iroquois Caucus currently lacks a coordinator, a role typically tasked with a great deal of logistical responsibility. This has made things temporarily harder in terms of organization, Perron said.


“We’re currently looking to hire a new caucus coordinator. The fact that we don’t have one makes it a little tricky for some of the follow-up to the things we discuss,” she explained. “Normally our coordinator would draft the letters, circulate them. They’d serve an administrative role as well.”


Perron hopes that a caucus coordinator can be recruited soon, which will make things more efficient at the next general assembly.


The general assembly of the Iroquois Caucus meets every two months, with the alternate months being meetings of the grand chiefs of each community. The grand chiefs typically discuss items to be put on the agenda for the general assemblies, which allows for more focused discussion when everyone meets together.


“All these items come together from different communities, it’s all work they’ve been doing individually, but then we all get on the same page, and the Iroquois Caucus tries to pull everything together and provide support for that more unified voice,” said Perron.

 Eve Cable is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE EASTERN DOOR. The LJI program is federally funded.

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