For Immediate Release
Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement-Ottawa (IPSMO) Presents Public Education, Ottawa, Ontario
Saturday, November 1, 2008, 3:30PM: IPSMO members will build public awareness; gathering at War Memorial to demand that CN Rail drop racist charges against Mohawk activists.
As part of long-standing struggles for land and self-determination – including unresolved land claims, poverty, suicides and polluted water – – members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk community have organized to defend their territory. In particular, several actions, including blockades, have taken place to expedite the slow negotiation process over the Culbertson Tract, a piece of land the government has long acknowledged was taken illegally from the Mohawks. A quarry on the land was reclaimed in March 2007, and Mohawks have maintained a full-time presence on-site ever since.
Due to their actions in defence of their land, several members of the Tyendinaga community have been charged with serious offences, and forbidden from participating in protests. Instead of acknowledging the just claims of the Tyendinaga Mohawks, the government and police permitted the development of the mine on land to which they are not legally entitled and then criminalize the community when it asserts its ownership.
CN is currently suing three activists from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory – Shawn Brant, Jason Maracle and Tara Green — for over $100 million. Given the financial strength of the individuals and community, it would be impossible to pay this sum of money. The lawsuit does not seek justice or foreseeable financial gain, rather it intimidates and marginalizes indigenous organizers to keep them from reacting to the injustices which occur when their title to the land is not recognized. Those who are active in the legitimate defence of their land and livelihood face criminalization as the broader issues remain unaddressed. By bringing public attention to the ludicrous lawsuit, we hope to pressure CN into dropping all charges against the activists, recognizing that the Mohawks have title to the land.
In solidarity with actions in Tyendinaga and Montreal, we are demanding that CN drop their racist lawsuit.
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