NEWS

Amanda Deer, non-native boyfriend driven from Kahnawake home by protesters

05/18/2015 08:59 EDT | Updated 05/18/2016 05:59 EDT
A couple and a 11-year-old boy were driven out of their home on a Quebec reserve by people protesting the presence of the woman's non-native boyfriend.

There are mixed opinions as to why residents of the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal are protesting the relationship between Amanda Deer and her non-native boyfriend. 

Protesters gathered outside Deer's home Sunday and demanded the family leave. She said she's not sure whether protesters were there because her boyfriend has a criminal record, or if it's because they were trying to enforce a territory law that says any Mohawk who marries or lives with a non-native must move away.

"Two people in the pro-eviction [group] and they were trying to break my front door down. They started handling the handle, banging on the door, banging on the porch, Deer said.

"People were on the side of my porch in the back where the pool is. I had the back door gate locked by the pool, they're trying to kick it in. 'Get the f--k out of here, get the hell out of here. We want him out!' And the police are standing there doing nothing."

Many of the protesters at her house, however, have attended prior protests over membership issues in Kahnawake.

Deer said she and her family decided to temporarily leave their home, fearing for their safety. 

Protesters also told CBC News and Radio-Canada reporters to leave Kahnawake on Sunday.

Boyfriend accused of violence

But Deer's neighbour, Michael Jacobs, said the protesters' actions were because the boyfriend has spent time behind bars and was released back into the community on Friday.

"The guy's a violent felon and we took it very seriously," Jacobs said. "I haven't slept for four days."

Grand Chief Mike Delisle said he doesn't believe the protesters were targeting Deer because of her blended family, but rather because of her boyfriend's reputation and because a court ordered the boyfriend to remain in Kahnawake as a condition of his release from jail. 

"Case workers, court workers, or what have you, should realize and understand that putting a condition on a non-native individual to reside in the territory isn't going to work," Delisle said.

Eviction policy

The controversy surrounding Kahnawake's "marry out, stay out" policy has spurred much consternation among Mohawks living on the land just south of Montreal.

The policy has been in place since 1981, but has not been widely enforced.

The rule means Mohawks who marry non-natives have to leave the community of about 8.000 residents. Over the years, some have left by their own accord, but others have chosen to stay despite Kahnawake's membership law.

 In 2010, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake voted to evict 26 non-natives.

The controversy then began anew last year, when some people living in Kahnawake said they were being intimidated by pro-eviction protesters. 

Many families since then have been targeted by people insisting they vacate the premises, including Marvin and Terry McComber, Cheryl Diabo and Waneek Horn-Miller.

Some of them are in the process of suing the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake over the eviction policy.

Geoff Kelley, the Quebec minister responsible for native affairs, said last week that he is concerned for the safety of the mixed Mohawk and non-native families.

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