According to CBC, a developer who owns land in Oka, Quebec, is looking to gift it to the Mohawks of Kanesatake in a gesture of reconciliation.
The developer, Grégoire Gollin owns a section of The Pines, a large forest in Kanesatake territory. Sixty acres of this landmass, a relatively small portion, he plans on giving back.
Gollin is also putting up 150 hectares of land to be bought by the Canadian government.
“My concrete gesture is to initiate giving back to the Kanesatake this piece of the forest I own and they value a lot in their heart” Gollin told CBC.
“As a citizen, I don’t have to wait for the government to do my contribution to reconciliation.”
Gollin has had relations with the Kanesatake before, but on less friendly terms. In 2017, a housing project of his was protested by the Mohawk community.
Many in Kanesatake oppose land development projects near and within The Pine, until negotiations with the government over land claims come to an end.
Oka was the site of popular tension in the 1990s, when the expansion of a golf course was protested by Kanesatake’s Mohawks, that gained the support of First Nations across North America. The Mohawks eventually erected a barricade, armed themselves, and, in a famous symbol of rebellion, faced down the Canadian military.
Environment and Climate Change Canada would imaginably handle the recent donation. This would be the first time an offering of this kind has been made with the agency. For the transfer to go through, the land’s value must be appraised and it must be confirmed as ecologically sensitive.
Gollin confirmed his offers in a signed declaration with Kanestake’s Grand Chief Serge Simon. During Gollin’s discussions with the Mohawk, an activist, well acquainted with the developer, told The Eastern Door of his worries over Gollin’s “condition” that he “would continue to sell land and build homes” on the land.
The municipality of Oka has expressed its own concerns with Gollin’s gift. Citing the “worrying” nature of “the agreement,” they believe may threaten the “sustainability” of Oka.