Mike Mitchell - Speaker

Knowledge Keeper

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Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell is one of the most respected First Nations leaders in Canada. Born in Akwesasne and raised by a traditional family, Kanentakeron had the benefit of a strong cultural and spiritual upbringing. Fluent in the Mohawk language, Kanentakeron has successfully applied traditional diplomatic skills in solving today’s challenges to First Nations on local, regional and national levels in all areas of development and renewal.

For three decades, Kanentakeron has served his people in a political capacity as Chief and Grand Chief in one of most volatile, yet progressive First Nations communities in Canada. His vision to help restore the independence of the Mohawk people of Akwesasne is based on applying the best of both Hotinonshonni philosophy and modern democratic government systems.

During the late sixties and early seventies, Kanentakeron was involved in the conquest to retrieve the Islands that were owned by the Mohawks of Akwesasne. However, at the time was leased out by the department of Indian Affairs, under a 999 year lease. The occupation leads to the tittle of the islands to be reverted back to the Akwesasne Mohawks.

In 1968, Kanentakeron organized an international bridge blockade that challenged Canada to restore the border crossing rights of First Nations under their inherent right and the Jay Treaty of 1794. Canada later dropped all charges and made special provisions for Akwesasne for tax free border crossing status.

During this time period there were ongoing skirmishes not just between Mohawks and Canada but between the elected system supporters and the traditional followers of the longhouse. At that time, Kanentakeron would be asked to get involved to the elective system of governance and initiate changes that would bring the power of decision making back to the community instead of Ottawa (Indian Affairs) making the decisions.

In 1982, Kanentakeron was elected as a District Chief to the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne representing Kahwenoke Island district. In 1984 he became the Grand Chief of MCA, then with a membership population of 10,000. He held the position until 2002 when he retired from 20 years in politics. In the summer of 2003, the community brought him out of retirement to again serve as District Chief of Cornwall Island for one more term; afterwards he resumed his position as Grand Chief until 2006, where the membership population had increased to 14,000. In 2009 Kanentakeron returned back to his position as Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and held this position until 2015, when he decided to take a break from politics, to devote more time on his book on Nation Building. In 2018 he began working for the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa acting as advisor to National Chief as well as resident Elder for the AFN national organization.

Prior to politics, Kanentakeron has also worked as an Ironworker (Local 440), film maker (National Film Board) and Director of Cultural Education at the North American Indian Traveling College.

Kanentakeron played lacrosse all his life. His interest in lacrosse is not just on the playing field but was also the President of the Iroquois Lacrosse Association, a position he maintained for almost 20 years. On the national scene he was the only Native representative to the Canadian Lacrosse Association where he served as First Nations Director for close to seventeen years. In 2014 the Canadian Lacrosse Association awarded Kanentakeron with the Lester B. Pearson Award, in recognition of his unselfish dedication and outstanding contributions of sportsmanship and distinguished leadership to the game of lacrosse.
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Mike Mitchell's Sessions

Plenary Session

Opening Prayer – Mike Mitchell, Knowledge Keeper

Opening remarks – Dr. Paulette Tremblay

Master of Ceremony – Simon Brascoupé

Keynote speakers:

Taiaiake Alfred, Author and Educator, Kahnawa:ke, QC

Panel speakers - Champions of Change; Honouring Resiliency

- Darren Googoo, Director of Education, Membertou First Nation

- Maureen Johns, Director of Education, Pasqua First Nation #79

- Davin Dumas, Director of Language and Culture, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre

- Chief Emily Whetung, Curve Lake First Nation

Announcements and Message from Khrystyna Orobets, MNP
Date: October 27, 2021
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Plenary Session

Opening Prayer – Mike Mitchell, Knowledge Keeper

Opening remarks – Darren Googoo, Chair of the Board, FNEAA

Keynote speaker - Terry Goodtrack, President & CEO, AFOA Canada
Message from Darrell Wellington, Syntronic
Date: October 28, 2021
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

11:00 - 11:30 am, Education for Decolonization: Lessons from the Kahnawà:ke Experience, Dr. Taiaiake Alfred

11:30 - 12:00 pm, Mike Mitchell
Date: October 28, 2021
Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Plenary Session

Announcement of Vendor Passport Draw
Date: October 28, 2021
Time: 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm