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Mohawk Community’s Law Against Mixed Couples Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted By: RumorMail
Date: Thursday, 3-May-2018 12:28:40
www.rumormillnews.com

Wait a minute.. I thought Reservation land was Sovereign land and able to make up it's own laws. So much for freedom to do so. ..

Snip

Graeme Hamilton, Montreal Gazette, 30 April 2018

A controversial membership law that requires residents of the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake to move out if they marry a non-native violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a court ruled Monday.

The ruling by Quebec Superior Court Justice Thomas Davis declares that a 37-year-old rule invoked to preserve Mohawk culture discriminates against Kahnawake members on the basis of family status and civil status.

The judge acknowledged that Kahnawake, just south of Montreal, has been disadvantaged by the actions of the federal government. “An important part of their land was expropriated for the (St. Lawrence) Seaway. The reserved lands have shrunk in size. For many years, the Mohawks were actively discouraged from practicing their culture,” Davis wrote.

But that does not justify an internal law that has sown division and sparked vandalism and online abuse as residents turned against each other.

The judge said the “Marry Out, Get Out” provision of the Kahnawake Membership Law is “largely (if not solely) grounded in a stereotypical belief that non-native spouses will use the resources and land of the Band in a way that is detrimental to it and that will have a negative impact on the ability of the Band to protect its culture and its land.”

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, the defendant, said it needs time to study the decision.

“Obviously, we maintain the position that matters that are so integral to our identity have no business in outside courts,” Grand Chief Joseph Norton said in a statement. “However, a decision on the case has been rendered. We are now taking the time to analyze the decision and will inform the community further in the coming days.”

Julius Grey, who represented the 16 plaintiffs, said he is optimistic the ruling can lead to reconciliation. The judge concluded there was “a clear violation” of Charter rights, but he left room for discussion, Grey said.

The lead plaintiff was Waneek Horn Miller, who represented Canada in the 2000 Summer Olympics, where she met her future husband, Keith Morgan. They have been a couple since 2002 and have three children.

When they were building a new home in Kahnawake in 2010, a petition began circulating demanding that the construction stop. In 2014, she learned her name was on an eviction list, and when she went to a band meeting to defend herself, she was verbally attacked and later received online abuse.

“Despite all of this, Ms. Miller would like to return to Kahnawake and would like her children to have access to the culture,” the ruling said. “She believes that she can contribute to the Kahnawake community. However, she is fearful of the consequences of moving back to Kahnawake for her family.”

In 2014, former Olympian Waneek Horn Miller, whose husband is non-native, learned her name was on an eviction list from the Kahnawake reserve. She was verbally attacked when she tried to fight the eviction. Tyler Anderson/National Post/File


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