Following a landslide win last Monday, November 8, current Chateauguay councillor Eric Allard will soon be sliding into the position of mayor.
With a total of 6,350 votes, Allard garnered approximately 52.8 percent of the ballots cast in the elections for the city of 52,000 people.
As he celebrated this victory, the incoming mayor expressed an intention to further the betterment of the city’s relationship with Kahnawake.
“The relationship was completely destroyed before, but today we are finally moving in the right direction,” Allard told The Eastern Door. “We have built bridges in the last four years with Kahnawake, and we need to keep building on that now.”
As he led the Alliance Chateauguay team, Allard ran his campaign on a platform that emphasized public consultation, which included a two-month door-to-door action plan that helped to shape his electoral program.
“Something that is important to us is to put the citizens back at the heart of the decisions and the processes,” explained Allard. “For too long, they have been sidelined, and decisions have been made without them.”
The soon-to-be mayor expressed that by prioritizing meeting and discussing with citizens, his team was able to construct an electoral program that truly reflects the needs and interests of Chateauguay residents.
In his win for the seat, Allard defeated Nathalie Simon, who held office as mayor from 2009 to 2017, and third candidate Lucie Lamoureux. The latter garnered 18 percent of the ballots, while former mayor Simon took home 27.9 percent of the votes.
When Allard officially steps into his new position this Sunday, November 14, he will be replacing departing mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier, who announced in August that he would not be running for his seat again.
“I had a pretty good working relationship with Pierre-Paul Routhier,” said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) grand chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer. “We had established an open line of communication early on in my mandate, and just recently, he had come back to the community to give his farewell.”
Now that Routhier is leaving office, Sky-Deer said she would extend an invitation to Allard and send him a congratulatory letter.
“(I will be) inviting him for a first meeting between our respective councils to hopefully continue the working relationship,” added the grand chief.
While highlighting the positive between both communities, Sky-Deer also underlined some points of contention that include the Old Chateauguay Road housing development project, the city’s proposed bike path, and local businesses refusing to respect Native status tax exemptions.
“These are just different things that need to be addressed for sure,” she added.
With both communities located so closely, combined with the persistent housing shortage afflicting Kahnawa’kehró:non, many community members have either grown up in or had to move to Chateauguay.
Thirty-one-year-old Dennis Dailleboust Stacey is one of them.
“For the younger generations like mine and those who have gone to school at perhaps Billings (High School), we view Chateauguay as being largely accepting,” said Stacey, who himself has been living in that city for the last 15 years.
“But when it comes to the older generation in Kahnawake, I feel like there’s a lot of disconnect between the two towns,” added the community member.
Aside from the tension he’s observed throughout the years, Stacey expressed that he would like to see Chateauguay’s new administration encourage change within the city’s educational systems.
“I would love to see both French and English schools have a better grasp and knowledge of teaching Indigenous issues,” he said.
“I went through schooling outside of Kahnawake, and what they’re learning right now is just abysmal. It’s not only wrong, it’s also the very bare minimum.”
In addition to school curriculums that appropriately reflect and teach the realities of Indigenous Peoples, Stacey said he wishes for respectful dialogue relating to land claims, such as the Seigneury of Sault St. Louis.
“I really hope for it to happen without any racist remarks and without any aggression towards either Kahnawake or Chateauguay,” he concluded.
For the newly elected mayor, the matter remains one he believes rests in the hands of outside governments.
“These are federal and provincial issues – and I think that governments have to do their part and get involved in these negotiations,” said Allard. “I still have no problem sitting at the table, having these discussions and being part of the solutions. But it has to be resolved, and that’s undeniable.”
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