AKWESASNE MOHAWK TERRITORY —The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne expresses its sincere condolences to the friends, family and the community of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations on the passing of Chief Ralph Akiwenzie on Friday, March 4th.
To commemorate his passing, MCA Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell conducted a tobacco burning ceremony and offered the following remarks:
“Chief Akiwenzie was a respected leader that never backed down from an issue, whether it was a popular one or not. His determination to protect First Nation rights and territories will be greatly missed at Chief’s conferences. He was a leader that cautioned outside governments to take a responsible approach towards development that could be detrimental to First Nations.
One of his last accomplishments was getting the Government of Ontario to halt offshore wind development in the traditional territory of the Saugeen First Nations until sufficient research was done. He cited the 2004 Supreme Court decision, which necessitates consultation over land development. In the absence of proper consultation, the Mohawks of Akwesasne are doing the same by opposing the decision made by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to ship nuclear containers along our great waterway.”
Chief Ralph Akiwenzie, 64, died Friday morning due to pancreatic cancer. He was the longest serving elected political leader at Cape Croker, having served 11 times as the head of the band council since first elected to Council in 1981. His long term as chief was interrupted briefly in 2005 and he was returned to office in 2007 and again in 2009.
Visitation hours for Chief Akiwenzie will be held at Chippewas of Nawash Community Centre, Cape Croker beginning on Sunday, March 6th from 2pm to 4 pm. The mass to celebrate his life will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 8th at 11 am.