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The Mohawk grand chief of the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal is adamant the upcoming eviction of 26 non-natives from the community is not "ethnic cleansing."

Grand Chief Mike Delisle says it's always been clear that Mohawks living on the reserve must leave the territory if they marry outside the community.

"People out in the exterior Canadian society should educate themselves before they formulate their own opinion to make comments," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"This isn't about ethnic cleansing. It's about self-preservation."

He says the rule was re-established in Mohawk law in 1984 and again in 2004.

Mr. Delisle adds that the contentious issue of the eviction of non-natives is not new, noting that it has come up in the past - in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Eviction notices are in the process of being sent out but Mr. Delisle says the band council is not heartless and will negotiate with people who cannot leave 10 days after they receive their notice.

He also points to an online poll which indicates that 60 to 65 per cent of the community supports the actions which are being taken.

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