Akwesasne welcomes the Peace Caravan

On 1 July 2009, 15 of us from Ottawa went to Akwesasne in a trip organized by IPSMO to show solidarity with the indigenous people of that territory. We were joined by about a dozen people from Montréal, organized by No One Is Illegal. The previous couple of days, a Six Nations Peace Caravan had arrived.

Despite some controversy surrounding the caravan that dissuaded many people from coming on these trips, the Peace Caravan and settler solidarity visits were warmly welcomed by Akwesasne residents. We enjoyed plentiful food and traditional songs, and listened to speeches of representatives from Six Nations, Kahnewake, Grassy Narrows, Mapuche, and the Akwesasne Womens Fire which organized hosting for the event and support for the occupation of the CBSA posts.

The new Grand Chief, who had just had been elected, updated those assembled on the situation. He emphasized that the arming of CBSA agents was only one of many grievances (at least 12) they had with government departments. He told us that a process had started for negotiation, beginning with (relatively) senior representatives of the Canadian government meeting chiefs half way. Notably, he observed that local Cornwall business leaders were not angry with the Akwesasne Mohawks at all and sympathized with them.

* http://picasaweb.google.com/peiju.wang/Akwesasne?feat=directlink
* http://picasaweb.google.com/warren.mcbride/AkwesasneJuly12009PeaceCaravan?feat=directlink

July 1: Akwesasne car caravan

Support the Mohawks of Akwesasne! Car Caravan to Akwesasne on July 1st

Car Caravan to Akwesasne
Wednesday, July 1st
Leaving Ottawa at 10:00am

On July 1st people from around “Ontario” will be heading to Akwesasne in support of the Mohawk community’s resistance to the arming of the Canadian Border Service Agency on June 1st.

On June 1st, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) border guards were scheduled to carry sidearms, but community resistance resulted in the closing of the border by the Canadian government.  Since then, the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne continues to resist the imposition of armed border guards by the CBSA.

The caravan from Ottawa will be leaving at 10:00am.  If you want to come down, contact us at: ipsmo@riseup.net

If you have a vehicle, and you want to take people down, contact us at: ipsmo@riseup.net

Community members have emphasized that it is important for supporters not to escalate the situation.

In Quotes:

“What the border has done to far too many of our First Nations communities is horrific and atrocious on so many levels — and it has poisoned our minds to think in singular factions, instead of a full circle…Which way is going to best resolve this situation I’m not sure of yet but I do know we have a right to stand up for our own community, which will never solely be in Canada or the United States. We belong to Mother Earth in whom no one has claim over – and where there aren’t any borders.” – Jessica Yee, Kanionke:haka (writing in rabble.ca, June 5, 2009)

“When the people make their decision, that’s what needs to be carried out, and the people have made their decision: there will be no firearms carried by customs agents on our territory.” — Sakoietah, member of the Men’s Traditional Council at Akwesasne (in an interview with No One Is Illegal Radio, June 4, 2009)

“[The Canadian Border Service Agency] is a foreign oppressive force who occupies our sovereign community and territory. (They are) unwelcome, uninvited and now carrying firearms. For lack of a different description, that is considered by some an act of war.” – Larry King, member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory (quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 2009)

“They’ll have to accept armed border officers there.” – Peter Van Loan, Canadian Minister of Public Safety, responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency (quoted by Canadian Press, June 7, 2009)


– CBSA agents were due to be armed at the Port of Cornwall (Kahwehnoke) crossing on June 1 2009, a policy universally opposed and condemned by the Akwesasne Mohawk Community –

[CBSA press release (May 9, 2009): http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/release-communique/2009/2009-05-09-eng.html]

The Mohawk territory of Akwesasne straddles the jurisdictions of Ontario, Quebec and New York State, and is a major international border crossing between Canada and the United States. Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) guards began arming in 2007, and there are currently more than 800 armed CBSA guards across Canada. The entire CBSA aims to be armed, in stages, by 2016. The CBSA announced that their agents at the Port of Entry at Cornwall (at Akwesasne) would be armed by June 1 of 2009.

As written in Mohawk Nation News on May 3, 2009: “For the next month Mohawks of Akwesasne will be protesting colonial Canadian border guards arming themselves with Beretta 9 mm handguns in the middle of our community. They hope to start on June 1. Akwesasne is on both sides of the foreign Canada-U.S. border and home to the whole community regardless of this imaginary line… A letter was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to have meetings with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and his predecessor Stockwell Day over a year ago. There has been no response. We hear that the European settler experience at the border is completely different. They are often waved through without harassment.” (For full article visit: http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=1076)

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne passed resolution #318 on February 28, 2008 forbidding firearms to be carried by Canada Border Services Agents CBSA on the territory of Akwesasne.

On May 8, 2009 over 250 Mohawks marched on the U.S.-Canada border. As written in Mohawk Nation News: “We are the most policed people in the world. Almost 20 U.S. and Canadian enforcement agencies traverse our community.” Daily disagreements have been instigated against Mohawks who must pass through the checkpoint on a daily basis. There have been serious injuries, hospitalizations, charges and assaults. So far there have been no fatalities. There has been a steady increase in racial profiling and slurs direct at us sanctioned by Canada. Incidents are being provoked to justify armed guards. Hundreds of complaints have been filed with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Canada Justice Department and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. No peaceful resolution has come forward.”

During the month of May, the community attempted to pressure and negotiate with the federal government and lobby at the international level. On May 26, 2009 Cornwall city council passed a resolution that no guns should be given to the CBSA guards. On May 28, 2009 Skarohreh Doug Anderson of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy presented a request to the Secretary of the UN Security Council to ask the UN to send officials to Akwesasne. Kenneth Deer of Kahnawake raised the issue of guns at Akwesasne with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous People.

Excerpt of statement to Secretary of the UN Security Council in New York: “On June 1 the Canada Border Services Agency guards will try to carry 9mm Berettas, which are meant to kill people. The UN must stop this attempt at ethnic cleansing at Akwesasne. Canada at the behest of the U.S. is trying to commit genocide on us, the real people of mother earth. The reasonable decision of the Haudenosaunee, our friends and supporters, is that there should be no guns anywhere on the Canada-U.S. border on the Canadian side. Canada is setting a precedent that any visitor arriving will have the barrel of a gun in their faces, so to say. We want the border station to be removed from the middle of Akwesasne. We know the power they presently exercise without the guns. They ridicule and demean us as we come through the border. They use their power of intimidation to pull us into their building away from the protective eyes of our friends and relatives. We have no choice but to cross many times a day to carry on our normal lives. The violence will always be directed at us and not at them. We want peace. These supposed peace officers are acting like war zone combatants. What a contradictory message Canada sends out to the world.”

The Akwesasne Mohawk Council Chiefs offered several compromise positions to senior Canada Border Services Agency officials during a meeting in Ottawa, but were rebuffed on May 28, 2009, according to Chief Larry King. During the Ottawa meeting, the chiefs unsuccessfully asked that the move be delayed for at least a year or until the end of CBSA’s arming process in 2016 to allow more time for community consultations as well as time for officers to be trained in cultural sensitivity by the community. The meeting ended with a declaration from CBSA president Stephen Rigby that our position is what it is; to which the chiefs responded, whatever happens will happen said King. (Source: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Armed+border+guards/1644877/story.html)


-> Many members of the Akwesasne community currently opposing armed border guards have referenced the story of Saiowisakeron (Jake Ice), a traditional Mohawk man who was shot and killed by Dominion police in 1899. There is a statue of Jake Ice at Akwesasne, which has become a focal point to express opposition to armed border agents. More information about Jake Ice available here: www.wampumchronicles.com/saiowisakeron.html

-> In 1968, members of the community blocked the border-crossing bridge against the policy that forced Akwesasne residents to pay duty on purchases they made in the United States, despite the fact that the Jay Treaty of 1794, also known as the “Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation” affirmed that they were not required to do so. An NFB documentary by Mort Ransen is available online at: http://intercontinentalcry.org/you-are-on-indian-land/

For an extensive backgrounder, read “Forty-one year legacy of Mohawk resistance at Akwesasne border” by Mohawk Nation News.

-> June 2008: Mohawk grandmothers attacked by CBSA guards; more info here: http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com/2008/06/cbsa-attack.html

-> Katenies, a member of the Akwesasne community, has openly challenged the colonial “Canada-US” border. She refuses to recognize the authority of the Canadian courts to judge her for “border violations”.  Article/Audio compilation here: http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com/2008/06/katenies-cbsa-background.html

[Information compiled by Harsha (No One Is Illegal-Vancouver) & Jaggi (No One Is Illegal-Montreal). Please send information for future updates to BOTH noii-van@resist.ca AND nooneisillegal@gmail.com]