Kahnawake officials to address complaints of discrimination against biracial couples on reserve

Kahnawake officials to address complaints of discrimination against biracial couples on reserve

Kahnawake officials to address complaints of discrimination against biracial couples on reserve

In August and September of 2015, five complaints were filed by Mohawk residents of Kahnawake claiming they had been the target of discrimination because of the reserve’s membership law.

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The complainants alleged they were singled out for having biracial backgrounds or having a partner who is considered “white.”

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    Reserve rules state that if a Kahnawake resident marries someone who isn’t a member of the First Nations community, they will be denied benefits and services.

    “What more have I got to lose? I already lost everything,” Brenda Dearhouse-Fragnito, community elder, said. “I don’t have my land, my kids are not allowed to live there. That’s what I always thought, we’d all live on the reserve together.”

    READ MORE: Land dispute brewing between Oka and Quebec Mohawk community

    These rights will also be denied to the couple’s children if they have any.

    The Canadian Human Rights Commission reviewed the complaints and has decided to uphold them.

    Kahnawake officials said they’ll deal with the issue after the holidays, but most residents on the reserve agree with the membership law.

    “It’s the community that has created laws that it feels it needs to do to protect what little we have left in terms of identity, culture, language,” Joe Delaronde, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake spokesperson, said. “All those things are so easy to lose when you have all of the outside influences everywhere around you.”

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    All parties involved have until Jan. 3 to decide if they will opt for mediation to resolve the dispute.

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