Newly elected Mohawk Grand Chief at work during Assembly of First Nations meeting

Newly elected Mohawk Grand Chief at work during Assembly of First Nations meeting

It’s the second day of Cody Diabo’s new role as Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, and he’s already at work, representing his community at the Assembly of First Nations’ three-day annual general meeting in Montreal on Tuesday.

His victory was confirmed early Sunday morning, with 542 of the approximately 1,100 votes.

“The community came out in droves and supported me, so they know what I can do. I’ve been on the council since 2019. I don’t shy away from the hard issues or challenges and I’m here today, my second day on the job,” said Grand Chief Diabo.

Cody Diabo, the new grand chief of Kahnawake, addresses the annual general meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Montreal, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

The 34-year-old was a member of the council as portfolio holder for lands and territories. Now that he has taken on his new role, his first task was to establish contacts with key players.

“I’ve already reached out to some of the contacts and the Quebec government and said we need to get back to the table. We have issues with land, land debts that we still have and I’ll also reach out to the federal government and get those conversations going, so that’s priority number one,” said Grand Chief Diabo.

Before he was elected to the city council in 2021, Diabo said he was just an average guy: a father, a community advocate, and a peacekeeper for Kahnawake.

“It’s just an honor to fight for my people at the end of the day,” he said.

“Together we can create a future where our communities thrive, harmony prevails, our rights are respected, and our contributions are recognized.”

Diabo greeted the general assembly with a speech welcoming participants from coast to coast to Mohawk territory. He will be attending the event over the next three days, themed “Strengthening Our Relations.”

“There are always stronger numbers. We have many of the same issues as all First Nations people and together we can push back on the intrusions that the federal and provincial governments are putting on us. So for me the land is the most important thing and they need to recognize that they are still guests here on Turtle Island.”

Diabo is the community’s fifth grand chief, succeeding Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, who was elected in 2021. He and the 11 new council chiefs began their three-year term on Monday, a day after what Diabo describes as a surreal election result.

“I was speechless, which I always say is a first and people in my community know me because that doesn’t happen very often, but now that I’m stepping into the role and getting straight to work, there’s stuff that needs to be done. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and I’m ready for it.”