Edward Roundpoint elected as Akwesasne's new grand chief

Edward Roundpoint has been elected as the next grand chief in Akwesasne, according to the unofficial results of Saturday's general election.

One of the Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island) district chiefs last term, Roundpoint won by 30 votes and will serve as the community's first new grand chief in nine years.

The results can still be appealed until July 4, however.

He will take office in the first few weeks of July, according to Shannon Roundpoint, communications manager for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA).

The MCA is the elected body for the Canadian portion of Akwesasne, which is located about 120 kilometres southeast of Ottawa and straddles the Ontario-Quebec border. It represents about 12,000 people.

Akwesasne's general election happens every three years, with voters electing one grand chief and four district chiefs from each of the territory's three districts.

Shannon Roundpoint said this year's pool of candidates was large compared to previous elections, with four women and two men running to be grand chief.

"I think that it's going to bring a lot more community members out just because of the sheer number of [candidates]," she said before Saturday's vote.

"So that's really interesting and good for the community, to have more people involved."

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict poses on Kawehno:ke, also known as Cornwall Island, March 25, 2020.
Abram Benedict, seen here in 2020, served as grand chief in Akwesasne for nine years. He did not run again and has since been elected regional chief for the Chiefs of Ontario. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Former grand chief didn't run again

Abram Benedict had been grand chief for the past nine years and involved with the MCA for twice that.

But he chose not to run in 2024 in order to focus on being elected regional chief for the Chiefs of Ontario, which represents more than 130 First Nations in the province.

Benedict won that election earlier this month by two votes, beating Dean Sayers, former chief of the Batchewana First Nation.

Benedict told CBC on Sunday that he was "definitely going to miss" being grand chief in Akwesasne.

"Being involved in the community on the daily is obviously self-rewarding ... being in the schools and meeting with community members is a great privilege and honour of the job," he said.

He added that Edward Roundpoint has been instrumental in some of the work the MCA has been doing both regionally and nationally, and that he "has what it takes to do the job."

More women on council

Mike Mitchell, who spent 32 years as grand chief in Akwesasne, said he was "very happy" for Roundpoint.

He was also thrilled to see 10 of the 13 people elected were women.

"That's what's making me very happy this morning. It's a change," he said. "Women will get their chance to lead the community, to be responsible for the community and take us to a new era.

"I will offer them whatever assistance and help to help the process. I'm sure other past leaders will feel the same way, but we are in a very exciting period here."