Antoine Delormier, the 67-year-old Akwesasne man who claimed he was roughed up by Canadian border guards while en route to the hospital in September, has died.
No word was given on the cause of death in an obituary other than that he had walked on “peacefully at the Cornwall Community Hospital-McConnell Site on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.” He had had a number of heart attacks before allegedly being dragged from his vehicle and made to wait in a cell for an ambulance on September 22.
“Antoine will be remembered for his political commitment to the return of our lands, his craftsmanship as he pounded logs for local basket makers, and his love and appreciation for the St. Lawrence River,” said Kawehno:ke District Chief Louise Thompson in a statement from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) about the three-term Kawehno:ke district chief.
Calling him a “courageous leader for Akwesasne,” the MCA said all its flags were being lowered to half-staff in remembrance of Delormier and that Mohawk government buildings and agencies would be closed on Monday November 30 to honor him and allow staff to attend his funeral.
“Chief Antoine Delormier was a respected community leader and valuable member of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, having served three consecutive terms as a Kawehno:ke District Chief,” the MCA said. “Although Chief Delormier no longer was in politics, he continued being an active community member. Antoine has been and will continue to be missed on Council.”
Delormier spent a week in the hospital back in September after he alleged that officers from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had pulled him from his vehicle when he refused to get out for a search as he drove himself to receive medical care for shortness of breath. He had had several heart attacks previously, the family said at the time.
The Delormier family contacted a lawyer, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reported, and on October 17 MCA members held a protest in support of Delormier and demanded changes to border policy.
“It is sickening going through this every day,” said Delormier at the time to APTN. “Those people over there (CBSA) need to have a little respect for the Native people that live here.”
Just three weeks later he was admitted to intensive care, according to the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder.
Because Cornwall Island lies in the St. Lawrence River, Akwesasne residents must stop at the Canadian border post any time they leave their homes to travel into Cornwall, Ontario or farther, according to APTN. The territory lies within Ontario, Quebec and New York State.