Montreal

1st woman elected grand chief of Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer has been elected Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, becoming the first woman to hold the title. 

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said she wants to 'restore trust in our institutions by decolonizing them'

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, who served as a chief on the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake for 12 years, was elected grand chief Saturday, becoming the first woman to hold the title. (Jessica Deer/CBC)

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer has been elected Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, becoming the first woman to hold the title. 

Sky-Deer, who was elected with 573 votes, served as council chief for 12 years. Gina Deer, another council chief, garnered 368 votes. 

When she announced she was running for the position, Sky-Deer said on her Facebook page that she wanted to be a leader who would "restore trust in our institutions by decolonizing them and who encourages the people back to the roots of the great Tree of Peace, Tionerahtase'kó:wa."

Sky-Deer succeeds late Grand Chief Joseph Norton, who died last August.

Mike Delisle, who was grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake's from 2004 to 2015, called the election a historic moment. 

"She's a Mohawk speaker. She's an extremely intelligent woman. She ventured off the territory for university and work, and has come back to share her 'wares,' so to speak, with the community," Delisle told CBC in an interview Sunday. 

"[She's] a great asset for us, as a speaker, as a traditional person — knowing and understanding the values that are taught in the longhouse."

Sky-Deer is also the first active member of the LGBTQ2S community to be elected to the post, something Delisle said is a step in the right direction for his community. 

He said Sky-Deer and other council members who were elected Saturday are young compared to previous years, which he sees as a positive sign.

With files from Rowan Kennedy

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