After speculation about the medical condition of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) Grand Chief, Joseph Tokwiro Norton, the MCK confirmed his decease at age 70 on August 14.
“He had suffered a fall at his home earlier today and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and passed away with his family at his side at approximately 8:30pm”, stated the MCK.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake expressed in a press release that “his death comes as a shock to his fellow Council chiefs, as he participated in the weekly Council meeting just five days ago. While he had suffered some recent health issues, he was expecting to fully recover and had continued to participate in the political matters important to Kahnawake”
Mr. Norton was first elected as Grand Chief in 1982 and served for 13 consecutive terms before retiring in 2004. He then returned in 2015. He was known throughout Turtle Island and across North America as a defender of his community’s rights. He was an ironworker before engaging in politics and was a past head coach of Kahnawake’s Lacrosse team.
“For many, he will be best remembered for his role during the Oka crisis of 1990” reads the MCK press release.
His leadership led to growth in many areas, particularly in economic development and the battle to restore and expand Kahnawake’s jurisdiction, as per the Council.
The MCK adds that “he became known as a strong voice for indigenous solidarity, defiance and determination”.
“We share the grief that the community is experiencing at this most challenging time” concludes the Council.
Many political figures expressed their sympathies, including past Mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre, present Mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante.
“I wish to convey my most sincere sympathies to the family of Grand Chief Joe Norton as well as to the community of Kahnawake. I really appreciated the collaboration that we have established since I took office. Rest in peace Mr. Norton ” also said Chateauguay MNA MarieChantal Chassé.
“On behalf of all all Chateauguay citizens, Mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier would like to extend his most heartfelt thoughts to Grand Chief Joe Norton, his family and all members of the Kahnawake community”, expressed Vision Chateauguay, Mr. Routhier’s political party.