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Land acknowledgment by Habs may be a mistake: Quebec Indigenous affairs minister

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QUEBEC — A Montreal Canadiens land acknowledgment that refers to unceded territory of the Mohawk Nation may be a mistake, according to Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière. 

The statement, which has been read before the NHL team's home games since Saturday, acknowledges "Kanien'keha:ka, also known as the Mohawk Nation, for their hospitality on this traditional and unceded territory where we are gathered today."

Speaking to reporters at the provincial legislature, Lafrenière said that referring to a specific nation may be a mistake. 

"It's important to recognize that the First Nations were here before us and that we now live together, but we're getting into a debate between historians who don't agree with each other, I think it might be a mistake," he told reporters at the provincial legislature Wednesday. 

It's not clear which nation was the first to live in Montreal, Lafrenière said, making the situation complex.

"In many place in Quebec, there's currently no agreement, on a historical level, about who has claim to the territory or who was there first, but one thing is clear, the First Nations and Inuit were here first and we have recognized this many times," he said, adding that the majority of places in Quebec are claimed by multiple Indigenous communities.

On Tuesday, Opposition Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade praised the team's decision to introduce a land acknowledgment, saying it sends an important message.

However, Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said it's a mistake to state that Montreal is unceded Mohawk territory. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2021.

Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press