Kahnawake not voting in federal election
"In the end, voting would undermine us," said Ellen Gabriel, a spokesperson for the Mohawk community of Kanesatake during the 1990 Oka Crisis. Gabriel is 52 and living back in Kanesatake after doing other things, including heading up the provincial organization Quebec Native Women.
Gabriel explained that Mohawks, unlike other aboriginals, don't consider themselves to be Canadian citizens. If they were to participate in federal and provincial elections now, it would weaken their claim of being a separate nation and their demand to deal "nation to nation" with Canada.
"It's not that Mohawks are uninterested in federal politics," said Joe Delaronde, a spokesperson for the Kahnawake band council. "It's not a rule written down somewhere. We've been courted before and we know we could sway the vote."
But Delaronde said the Mohawk community takes its direction from the Two Row Wampum, a historic treaty that dictates one nation not interfere in another's governance. "We're in the same river, going in the same direction but in different canoes."