“Not one more inch.”
That’s the message some residents of Kahnawake say they have for the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, as they occupied a construction site next to the Mercier Bridge Monday morning.
“We had heard that they were going to start construction in that area,” said Joe Deom, pointing to an area is a few metres west of the bridge next to Old Malone highway in Kahnawake where members of the community’s traditional leadership, the Longhouse, and supporters occupied.
“We want to know what’s going on,” Deom told Global News.
The bridge corporation wants to build a shed as part of work which started on the bridge this summer. This new phase, explained spokesperson Nathalie Lessard, includes new electronics systems for the bridge.
“The purpose of the shed is basically to house the electrical equipment,” she said.
The Longhouse objects to the construction, saying the location of the shed is outside the bridge’s territory.
“We’re concerned about the bridge taking more territory than they are allowed,” Deom pointed out.
He also claimed that the traditional leaders weren’t informed about the project.
“We want to talk to the officials of the bridge corporation to find out what’s their plans and what’re they up to,” he pointed out.
But the bridge authorities say they have been doing work on the bridge for decades and that they have always consulted with the elected council.
“For this particular work, or for any work, we plan our work with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake,” she insisted.
“So we showed them the plan, we had an agreement on the deadline, the scope of the work, everything.”
Kahnawake residents set up camp in opposition to housing development project
Global News is waiting to hear back from the elected council.
This is the most recent clash over land on the territory.
In July, the Longhouse as well as the elected council opposed plans by Chateauguay to build a housing project on a parcel of land the First Nations community says is on its territory.
Campers also occupied the space to prevent construction.
Now, as then, community members say they don’t want to not yield any more territory, no matter how small.
The bridge authority says the work is on hold for now.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.