Illegal dumpsites in Kanesatake | Calls for calm and grumbling towards the SQ

(Ottawa) The inaction of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) in the illegal dumping of Kanesatake is being criticized as a group of citizens and environmental activists plans to block Route 344 in Oka. The members of the group want to prevent trucks from going to Mohawk territory to dump potentially contaminated materials. Grand Chief Victor Bonspille supports them while other elected officials in the region call for calm.


Published at 00:41

Updated at 5:00 a.m.



“I’m going to support them because the Quebec and federal governments and their environment departments are doing nothing to resolve the situation,” Mr. Bonspille said bluntly in an interview. “They come, they try to do something and they run away with their tails between their legs.”

He added that he does not condone violence, but that he agrees with a peaceful demonstration. However, the situation could turn ugly if the group carries out its threat.

This is what the mayor of Oka, Pascal Quevillon, fears, and he is calling for calm. “This is pushing the issue a little too far,” he said in an interview. “Yes, there is a part of the community that is fed up, but there is another part of the community that will not be happy if we block the road. With the cannabis businesses and everything, I think it will create tension, it will perhaps incite violence as well.”

The Press reported Wednesday that a new collective to denounce security problems in Kanesatake is demanding a public meeting with Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel and his federal counterpart, Dominic LeBlanc, or threaten to block Route 344 in Oka later this summer. The group, which includes the Eau Secours organization and Quevillon’s political rival, Julie Tremblay-Cloutier, wants to prevent trucks from going to Kanesatake to dump potentially contaminated materials.

“I certainly cannot support any initiative that could lead to aggression or escalation,” said Bloc Québécois MP Jean-Denis Garon, recalling the heightened tensions experienced during the Oka crisis.

The issue of dumps is complex, since it involves several ministries in both Quebec and Ottawa. And the fed-up feeling is felt as much among the Mohawks of Kanesatake as among the residents of Oka.

“It doesn’t surprise me that it’s come to this. People are fed up,” says Brent Etienne, a chief of the Kanesatake Band Council, which is divided into two factions. Unauthorized dumping of soil on the territory is a subject that has been discussed many times with a number of authorities, such as Environment Canada, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment, the SQ, and the provincial and federal departments of Public Safety.

“It’s always the same thing. They either say they can’t do anything or that it’s up to another organization to do it,” he said. “Very often, they say it’s not their area of ​​expertise or other excuses for not intervening.”

Inaction comes at a price, according to Serge Simon, another chief of the Band Council. “It results in a high level of intimidation within the community that makes people here afraid to act.”

The two chiefs had intervened on one of the sites where Nexus trucks were unloading soil without authorization from the Band Council. The owner of the site had punched one of the Mohawk leaders. “We don’t have a police force, environmental inspectors or fire station,” he laments. “Our sister Iroquois communities – Kahnawake and Akwesasne – do.”

Where is the SQ?

On the federal scene, there are questions about why the SQ simply does not enforce the law in Kanesatake as it would elsewhere in the province. Behind the scenes, there are even comparisons to the inaction of the Ottawa police during the “freedom convoy” in 2022.

“People have resorted to putting up barricades and it’s dangerous. The SQ must do its job and enforce Quebec’s environmental laws,” said Simon Ross, director of communications for Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, in a written statement.

“As we have previously pointed out, the Sûreté du Québec has jurisdiction over the territory of Kanesatake and the Municipality of Oka,” said Jean-Sébastien Comeau, press attaché to the federal Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc. He added that Mr. LeBlanc remains willing to discuss possible solutions with the Government of Quebec.

A meeting between Quebec and federal ministers concerned about this issue is being discussed, but no date has yet been set. Quebec says it is “fully aware of citizens’ concerns,” but complains about Ottawa’s lack of cooperation.

“We have invited them several times to join us to discuss it, and we are still waiting for a response,” said Maxime Bélanger, press attaché to Quebec Minister of Public Security François Bonnardel.

“The SQ is responsible for ensuring security in this territory, and they will be able to answer operational questions,” he recalls.

The SQ spokesperson in the Laurentians region, Marc Tessier, first responded to The Press that he had no comment to make on the intention of citizens to block Route 344. “No, not for that,” he said. “Nothing has happened so far.” He then directed us to the Quebec Ministry of the Environment.

“We are not the ones who are going to close the dump,” he explained, referring to the G & R Recyclage site. “That is not our responsibility, it is not in our mandate, we have no power over that.”

He said the SQ enforces the Highway Safety Code and controls the movement of trucks where “they are not allowed to travel,” while the Contrôle routier Québec agency enforces transportation laws and regulations, such as those on truck loads and dimensions. The Quebec Ministry of the Environment is responsible for enforcing environmental laws.

The story so far

May 24, 2024

Ottawa ends impasse over G & R Recycling site, illegal dump in Kanesatake. W8banaki Tribal Council to conduct contaminant assessment at site.

June 3

Members of Kanesatake are once again denouncing the “lawless state” in the community and urging authorities to act, one year after sounding the alarm.

June 10

The Press reports that the excavation company Nexus has been removing soil from construction sites for months at another site in Kanesatake, along the Ottawa River.

July 3

A collective of citizens and environmental activists is threatening to block Route 344 in Oka to slow the flow of trucks to Mohawk territory.

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