Drownings in Akwesasne: will there be consequences?

Akwesasne drownings: will there be consequences?


The Akwesasne tragedy, which killed eight people, is one of the worst fatal drownings in Quebec history. The drowned were found near the boat of a missing Mohawk. 

For decades, Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory that straddles Quebec, Ontario and the New York State is the hub of smuggling in eastern North America.

“Many boat owners have become rich by letting illegal smugglers use their docks,” says to the Journala resident of Summerstown, Ontario. “This is where it all happens. Drugs, cigarettes and migrants,” says the owner of a residence on the banks of the St. Lawrence, in Cornwall.

The two did not want to be identified, for fear of reprisals from groups criminals who control this trafficking, to which should also be added the trafficking of arms.

Another witness told the Journal that he had advised the authorities of these passages at home. No result. However, 80 migrants have reportedly been intercepted there since January. How many were able to pass without being intercepted? 

Quebec and Ottawa fear the Mohawks

I have dealt several times in Le Journal, in recent years, the incredible laissez-faire from Ottawa and Quebec regarding the illegal activities that have been going on for decades in Akwesasne.

In an open letter in Le Journal de Montréal, in 2021, Senator and ex-policeman Jean-Guy Dagenais claims that only Justin Trudeau “can tackle Akwesasne’s gun strainer and restore minimum jail sentences for those caught in possession of illegal firearms…regardless of race.”

Fed by Akwesasne, the other Mohawk reserves are the main source of illegal firearms circulating in Montreal and Toronto.

< p>Arms trafficking has been going on for decades

US diplomatic dispatches revealed by the WikiLeaks leak of 2011 indicate that arms, drugs and other contraband goods, worth around a billion dollars, passed through Akwesasne each year.

Already in 2004, the American consul in Quebec, Susan Keogh-Fisher, writes that the governments of Quebec, Canada and the United States were doing everything to avoid upsetting the Mohawks. For her part, the American consul in Montreal, Bernadette Allen, affirmed that it is useless to call on the Mohawk “police” to enforce the law.

Ottawa and Quebec are scared to death of the Mohawks who can block the bridges in Cornwall, Ontario, and Honoré-Mercier, in Montreal. Everything to avoid a new Oka crisis.

In June 2022, Quebec has just granted $6.2 million to the Mohawk police of Akwesasne in its strategy to fight against armed violence in Montreal. We therefore pay the salaries of five Peacekeepers and provide them with a new boat, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles in order to arrest firearms smugglers.

The federal government did the same thing two years ago. The Mohawks claimed that they did not have the means to fight against Aboriginal organized crime. Obviously, nothing came of it.

The Mohawk police officers of Akwesasne already have a water patrol. They seized how many weapons or other contraband goods destined for Canada? How many smugglers have they arrested?

I predicted that the results for the next five years would be similar, despite the millions from Quebec and Ottawa. I suggested that the grant be conditional on performance: we pay according to seizures.

The death of the eight migrants may stem transits to the United States. But I doubt it will affect the flow of arms and drugs in the opposite direction to Canada.

Knowing perfectly well the sieve that is Akwesasne for a long time, you wonder why the RCMP and the SQ do not patrol the waters around Akwesasne? Again, because Ottawa and Quebec are afraid of the Mohawks.