A Walk for Mother Earth: June 15-22, from Kanehsatà:ke to Ottawa


walkformotherearthIPSMO stands in solidarity with ‘A Walk for Mother Earth’

June 15-22 – 8 days, 140km: The walk for a pipeline-free future continues…

From June 15th to June 22th, 2014, ‘A Walk For Mother Earth’ will continue the journey of ‘Peoples for Mother Earth’. They will be walking 140km over 8 days, from Kanehsatà:ke (or Hudson QC) to Ottawa ON, to continue efforts to oppose pipelines here and elsewheres.

On Sunday June 22nd, at 2:00pm, we will stand together on Parliament Hill in a welcoming of the walkers and to show our solidarity with all peoples working towards a pipeline-free future across North America.
*Note: there will also be a meet up point, 1:00pm at Rivierain Park (SW corner of Montreal Rd and North River Rd, just before the bridge to Rideau St), to join in with the walkers for the final 3km of the walk.


Background

The walk originated as the “People for Mother Earth”, that began May 10th in Cacouna QC and is planned to finish on June 14th in Kanehsatà:ke. This walk, carried out by citizens of Quèbec, consisted of an average of 20 km a day for 34 days. It began at the site of a proposed TransCanada seaport export station, and followed the route of the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline to Montreal, and then the route of the already-approved Enbridge Line 9 pipeline to Kanehsatà:ke. The walkers stop each day to connect with communities in an important mobilization against pipelines and fossil fuel exploitation.

For more information on the original “Peoples For Mother Earth” walk, please consult:


The Walk Continues…

A new group of citizens decided to continue the walk to Ottawa and Parliament Hill. The new walk will start in Kanehsatà:ke with a conference, celebration, and a ‘passing of the torch’ ceremony on June 14th starting at 10am. (click here for the June 14th event details on Facebook)

Here is the itinerary of the stops along the route, along with a link to an interactive map:

  • June 15th – Kanehsatà:ke/Hudson QC to Rigaud, QC
    You can meet up with the walkers (around) noon at the ‘Traverse Oka’ HUDSON ferry terminal: 158 Main, Hudson, (Québec) J0P1H0
    Or, the walk will arrive at 6pm at: L’Édifice Paul-Brasseur: 10 Rue St. Jean-Baptiste Est, Rigaud, QC
  • June 16th – Rigaud, QC to St. Eugène, ON
    Will be staying at St. Eugène ON- Centre Communautaire: 1123 Rue Labrosse St. Eugène, ON
  • June 17th – St. Eugène, ON to Vankleek Hill, ON
    Will be staying at Vankleek Hill Anglican Church- 5845 Church St. Vankleek Hill, ON
  • June 18th – Vankleek Hill, ON to Alfred, ON
    Will be staying at Alfred Recreation Centre-555 St. Philippe St. Alfred ON
  • June 19th – Alfred, ON to Plantagenet, ON
    Will be staying at Plantagenet-Centre de l’amour: 225 Rd. 21 Plantagenet, ON
  • June 20th – Plantagenet, ON to Clarence-Rockland, ON
    Will be staying at Clarence-Rockland: Rockland Arena (Jean-Marc Lalonde Arena)-1450 Park Ave. Rockland, ON
  • June 21st – Clarence-Rockland to Orléans, ON
    Will be staying at Ressurection Lutheran Church: 1325 Gaultois Ave. Gloucester, ON
  • June 22nd – Orléans, ON to Parliament Hill Ottawa
    Meet at at 1pm at a 1:00pm at Rivierain Park (SW corner of Montreal Rd and North River Rd, just before the bridge to Rideau St), to join in with the walkers for the final 3km of the walk.
    Or, be there to welcome the arrival on Parliament Hill at 2:00pm!


How to get involved

There are several ways you can get involved to support the Walk for Mother Earth:

  1. Join in for all or part of the walk beginning from Kanehsatà:ke on June 14th, or from one of the locations along the way! Contact Ashley Thackaberry: peopleformotherearth@gmail.com or 647-204-1147 to work out details.
    **see the comment on this post for a list of what to bring if you are going to join in on the walk
  2. Support the walk financially – you can make donations:
    – via this PayPal link,
    – or by e-transfer to peopleformotherearth@gmail.com
  3. Help spread the word:
    – share the link to this web page you’re currently visiting,
    – or the walk’s Facebook page,
    – or the Facebook event page for the June 22 arrival on Parliament Hill,
    – or print flyers out that you can distribute.
  4. Join us on Parliament Hill at 2pm on June 22nd, 2014

 

For more information on “A Walk For Mother Earth”

The ‘Peoples For Mother Earth’ website will also be updated to include info on the continuing ‘A Walk For Mother Earth’ : www.peuplespourlaterremere.ca

& the Twitter hashtags will continue in use for both walks: #MarcheTerreMere, #MotherEarthMarch

Short documentary on the “Peoples for Mother Earth” walk (bilingual):

[vimeo 97895447 w=600 h=337]

Canadian Mining and Indigenous Self-Determination: Perspectives from Panama and Ontario

Canadian Mining and Indigenous Self-Determination:
Perspectives from Panama and Ontario

Tuesday September 25th, 7pm to 9:30pm

University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building, Room 1110
55 Laurier Ave E.

Celestino Mariano Gallardo Gallardo is Chief of the Nidrini region of the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé comarca, or special admininstrative area, in Panama. In 2011, in the wake of violent repression and after years of struggle, the Ngäbe-Buglé won a law to protect their comarca and Cerro Colorado in Western Panama from mining development. Celestino will talk about their struggle and Canadian industry involvement as a catalyst of conflict.

Robert Lovelace is an adjunct lecturer at Queen’s University in the Department of Global Development Studies, an activist in anti-colonial struggles and a retired chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. He lives in the Algonquin highlands at Eel Lake in the traditional Ardoch territory, has travelled to Ecuador and Bolivia, and speaks widely about the impacts of Canadian mining on Indigenous peoples.

Event presented by MiningWatch Canada, Territorio Libre, the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) and the Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) and the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa

Facebook event link

Book launch – Fractured Homeland by Bonita Lawrence – Aug 13

Launch of Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario. Featuring author Bonita Lawrence, Bob Majaury (Ottawa Algonquins), Daniel Bernard Amikwabe (Algonquin Union) & other speakers!

UPDATE – Watch the video recording of the event:

Monday August 13, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Minwaashin Lodge, 424 Catherine St (2nd floor)
Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory

Free admission; copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Hosted by Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO), co-sponsored by Minwaashin Lodge and Octopus Books.

Click here for event on Facebook. Click here to download poster (pdf).

Fractured Homelandis about non-status Algonquins in Ontario — their diverse struggles around identity and nationhood — set against the backdrop of the Algonquin comprehensive land claim

About the author:Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) teaches Indigenous Studies at York University in Toronto. She is the author of “Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood.

More about the book:In 1992, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the only federally recognized Algonquin reserve in Ontario, launched a comprehensive land claim. The claim drew attention to the reality that two-thirds of Algonquins in Canada have never been recognized as Indian, and have therefore had to struggle to reassert jurisdiction over their traditional lands.

Fractured Homeland is Bonita Lawrence’s stirring account of the Algonquins’ twenty-year struggle for identity and nationhood despite the imposition of a provincial boundary that divided them across two provinces, and the Indian Act, which denied federal recognition to two-thirds of Algonquins. Drawing on interviews with Algonquins across the Ottawa River watershed, Lawrence voices the concerns of federally unrecognized Algonquins in Ontario, whose ancestors survived land theft and the denial of their rights as Algonquins, and whose family histories are reflected in the land. The land claim not only forced many of these people to struggle with questions of identity, it also heightened divisions as those who launched the claim failed to develop a more inclusive vision of Algonquinness.

This path-breaking exploration of how a comprehensive claims process can fracture the search for nationhood among First Nations also reveals how federally unrecognized Algonquin managed to hold onto a distinct sense of identity, despite centuries of disruption by settlers and the state.

For a sample Chapter:

http://www.ubcpress.ca/books/pdf/chapters/2012/FracturedHomeland.pdf

Algonquin Union hand-delivers urgent letter of appeal to stop clear-cutting of South March Highlands in Ottawa

Update:

Open Message to Ottawa Mayor Watson and City Council
The letter being hand-delivered to Minister Chan today (Feb. 24, 2010)

Information on the archaeological artifacts found on South March Highlands

Note: Algonquin Firekeeper Daniel Bernard has been invited by NDP leader Andrea Horwath to speak in the Ontario legislature today.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 24, 2011

Algonquin Union hand-delivers urgent letter of appeal to stop clear-cutting of South March Highlands in Ottawa

(Toronto) Despite several respectful but failed attempts to schedule a meeting with Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan, representatives of the Algonquin Union are hand-delivering a letter today to his office. The letter, to be delivered by Algonquin Firekeeper Daniel Bernard (Amikwabe), contains new archeological information that provides Minister Chan grounds to stop the clear-cutting of South March Highlands in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

Tree cutting and heavy construction equipment continue to devastate this urban forest, which has been repeatedly identified as a site of significant archeological heritage, in addition to being of major environmental and ceremonial importance. The entire area has the potential to be recognized as Provincially Significant Cultural Heritage in accordance with Ontario Regulation 10/06.

“It is very disturbing that during the United Nations’ Year of the Forest the city of Ottawa is permitting one of the most amazing old growth forests located in an urban setting anywhere in the world to be destroyed,” Bernard says.

Algonquin people from across the Ottawa River Watershed in both Ontario and Quebec have called for an immediate halt to the KNL housing project at the site, while an independent archeological review is carried out to determine the cultural significance of the land. KNL’s own archeological study was accepted by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in 2004, despite being described as ‘fatally flawed’ by Dr. Robert McGhee, past president of the Canadian Archeological Association. Many other reviews and studies have concluded that the site is of high importance from a cultural standpoint.

South March Highlands is an old growth forest and one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada. It offers critical habitat to more than 675 species of life, including 240 species of wildlife, more than 135 nesting birds and 20 species at risk.

Contact:
Daniel Bernard, on behalf of the Algonquin Union: Cell: 416-876-3051   Email: dan_bernard@rogers.com
Paul Renaud  Cell: 613-277-5898    Email: paul@renaud.ca
Algonquin Union: http://www.union-algonquin-union.com

Algonquin Union seeks urgent action from Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan

Media Advisory for Thursday, February 24, 2011

STOP DESTRUCTION OF SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS
>> Algonquin Union seeks urgent action from Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan
Firekeeper Daniel Bernard (Amikwabe), on behalf of the Algonquin Union, will hand-deliver an urgent letter of request to the Honourable Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture on Thursday morning, seeking an immediate halt to the clear-cutting of South March Highlands (SMH) in Ottawa.

Despite numerous appeals to the Minister, Mr. Chan has yet to respond to the Algonquin request for a meeting to share new archeological information about the SMH site. This new information will provide grounds for Mr. Chan to stop the further devastation of land now being developed and considered sacred by First Nations people.

A sacred ceremony will be performed prior to delivery of the letter at 11 a.m. outside the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park “in the hope that the Minister and his officials will open their hearts and minds to preserve what remains of this sacred place,” Daniel Bernard states.

From: The Algonquin Union
When: 11 am, THURSDAY, February 24, 2011
Where: Main entrance, Ontario Legislature
Queen’s Park, Toronto

Contact:

Daniel Bernard, on behalf of the Algonquin Union
Cell: 416-876-3051
Email: dan_bernard@rogers.com

Paul Renaud
Cell: 613-277-5898
Email: paul@renaud.ca

For more information:
• Algonquin Union: www.union-algonquin-union.com

South March Highlands / Beaver Pond Forest

Latest updates:

~~~~

A message from Paul Renaud (paul@renaud.ca, renaud.ca/wordpress):

I am writing to you on behalf of the 14,500+ persons in the multicultural communities who have come together to protect the South March Highlands from development in west Ottawa – only 20 minutes from Parliament Hill.

This multicultural community includes over 6,500 Algonquin in the First Nation communities of Ottawa, Kitigan-Zibi, Bonnechere, Kinounchpirini, Ardoch, Kichesipirini, and Pasapkedjiwanong who have responded to Grandfather William Commanda’s call for protection (attached).  The multicultural communities unified in protecting the South March Highlands also includes another 8,000 Canadians of non-aboriginal heritage as well as many non-Algonquin Metis.

We are asking for your support and influence with both federal and provincial leaders to call for an immediate halt to development and a reassessment of this situation.

The South March Highlands (“SMH”) has been described in official studies as a “wild island” of natural landscape within the City of Ottawa (“City”).  Until recently it remained largely in its original natural state because its rugged landscape was unsuitable for agriculture.  SMH is the southern end of the Precambrian Canadian Shield outcrop known as the  Carp Hills which first emerged from the Champlain Sea 11,000 years ago.  Its geology is unique to the National Capital and its wetland-rich land has been described in City studies as “an island of rugged, heavily-glaciated, rocky, Gatineau Hills-like habitat”.  The Carp Hills/SMH is the only place in Ottawa where the Canadian Shield is visible on the Ontario side of the great river.

No other major city in the world includes a vigorous old growth forest with endangered species.    The closest is perhaps Vancouver’s Stanley Park which is 1/3 the size, contains ½ the variety of vascular plants, and no species-at-risk as compared to the SMH which is refuge for 20 documented species-at-risk of extinction within a small area of only 3 km by 4 km in size.

The SMH is a candidate Provincially Significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (“ANSI”) for both its Life Science value (895 hectares) and for its unique Wetland Complex (114 hectares).  It has been valued by scientists as the “most important reservoir of ecological potential” in the City because it has the densest bio-diversity and its 30 eco-types of vegetation provide a wide variety of resources for the renewal of depleted natural areas elsewhere.  There are 10 distinct habitats within the SMH and the largest deer wintering yard (925 hectares) in the City.

The SMH is the aquifer for North Kanata and its hydrology is integral to both the Carp River as well as to the federally significant Shirley’s Bay wetland complex in the Greenbelt.  The SMH is ecologically unique in the City, supporting over 440 native species of vascular plants and has the highest floristic diversity of any natural area in Ottawa.

This SMH is also home to over 269 species of wildlife, including 170species of birds that are known to breed in this area, twice the number found in Punta Cana’s world famous ecological park.  The area is also home to the Monarch Butterfly, another species at risk, however no study of insect or bryophyte (non-vascular plant) species has ever been performed.  We have written to the Federal Minister of Justice questioning the lack of authority granted to the City to authorize a mass killing of wildlife but have received no response.

The SMH is also rated by the City as having high potential for archaeological resources.  To-date, 3 archaeological sites have been found that present evidence of native occupation of the SMH dating back 500 generations.  One of these sites was confirmed by eminent archaeologists but is tied up in a court case because the developer who commissioned the research refused to pay for it.  Two of the other sites have been identified but not been properly assessed to-date.  An archaeological study done by another one of the developers was reviewed by a former president of the Canadian Archaeology Association who determined it was “fatally flawed” for having not adequately considered pre-European-contact cultural resources.  Despite appeals to the Ontario Minister of Culture, nothing has been done about this.

We have also been working with the National Capital Commission to protect this area and in conjunction with the Greenbelt Coalition have made formal submissions which have been accepted by the NCC as part of their Greenbelt Master Planning process.  Two MPs, Gordon O’Connor and Paul Dewar have called on the NCC to protect this area, as have Elizabeth May, the Sierra Club of Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation.  However, to-date Madame Lemay has declined to confirm any official NCC support for protecting the area.

This matter is now urgent as one of the developers is already clear cutting in the forest and another is about to start at the end of January. With the support of the Algonquin Chiefs, the Inter-Tribal Medicine Council has established a Sacred Fire last week which has been burning continuously to symbolize that this land is a place of Manitou and is integral to the cultural heritage of all Anishinabe people.  The Sacred Fire is currently being maintained around the clock by Fire Keepers representing all the communities that have been unified in this cause.

More information about the South March Highlands and our efforts to protect it can be downloaded from the links below.  This includes a couple of short videos that are well worth viewing.

We ask that you assist us in whatever way you can to bring this to the attention of both federal and provincial leaders for immediate action.

Please join us by adding your tobacco to our Sacred Fire to protect this place of Manitou.

Kitchi Megwetch,
Paul Renaud
Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands
613-277-5898

Letters sent by First Nations:

And by Grandfather William Commanda:

And by other Elders:

Motion passed unanimously by City of Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory
Subcommittee:

Videos:

Presentations:

Other Letters of Support may be downloaded from:

www.ottawasgreatforest.com – website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca – (website for the coalition to protect the SMH)

http://onnaturemagazine.com/the-race-to-save-the-south-march-highlands.html – (Article in Ontario Nature Magazine)

http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper-for%20NCC%20Review.pdf – Greenbelt Coalition Position Paper to NCC on Emerald Necklace

http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper%20App5%20-%20SMH.pdf – Submission to NCC  on South March Highlands

Algonquin Native Lights Sacred Fire to Denounce Anticipated Forest Destruction

UPDATE: As of Sunday Jan 23, the Sacred Fire has been passed on to be kept up by the community (and volunteers are needed to take shifts) – click here for more …

OTTAWA –  Algonquin Daniel Bernard “Amikwabe” set up a camp this morning to keep a Sacred Fire burning round the clock next to the entrance of the Beaver Pond forest at the end of Walden Drive in Kanata.  This is a personal initiative “to denounce the massacre of the wildlife and this sacred forest” in response to a declaration by Algonquin Elder William Commanda that the forest is sacred.

The landowner, KNL Developments, moved tree-clearing equipment on to Beaver Pond lands January 18 after receiving City of Ottawa approval to proceed with plans to build a housing development.  Development plans have been contested by citizens for decades, and protest has peaked in recent months.

Grandfather William Commanda, the most senior Algonquin Elder, has stated that the area is sacred to his people, and has written letters to all levels of government urging protection of the land.  Four First Nations groups, Chiefs, and Elders have written similar letters of concern (see links below).

Archaeological artifacts have been found nearby that show evidence of pre-contact civilization.  Natives and non-Natives alike are calling for a comprehensive archaeological assessment and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal peoples before any development proceeds.

On January 12, the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee passed a resolution noting that the City of Ottawa “should be seen as an example role-model to other municipalities in Canada in respecting Aboriginal affairs” and asked the City take the lead in conducting a new archaeological survey of the entire South March Highlands.

Gordon O’Connor, MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, recently asked the National Capital Commission to include the Beaver Pond forest in its upcoming revision of the Greenbelt master plan. Carleton-Mississippi Mills MPP Norm Sterling wrote letters January 17 to the Premier of Ontario and several other Ministers in support of protecting this land.

Robert Lovelace, former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, recently wrote that “If Mayor Jim Watson were a real leader, he would know enough to realize that the incremental destruction of the last wildlands in the city needs to stop.  As a real Chief, he would be on the side of the people and the land.” (see link below)

A Sacred Fire is a peaceful religious observance.  Bernard, of the Algonquin Beaver Clan, invites others to join him and pray for the forest and the animals.  He plans to keep the fire burning until Sunday, January 23.

Members of the community are providing support to Bernard, and will be joining him throughout the protest.  All are committed to protecting the Beaver Pond forest and other environmentally sensitive areas of the South March Highlands, which is home to more than 675 species, including 19 species at risk, and recognized by the City as one of the most biodiverse areas in Ottawa

– 30-

For more information:
Steve Hulaj — 613 878-1135

Directions:
Exit Highway 417 at Terry Fox Drive and go North past the shopping centers.  Turn Right and take Kanata Avenue up the hill.  Proceed past Goulbourn Forced Road on the left and high school on right, to Walden.  Turn Left on Walden and proceed to the very end.

BACKGROUND:

Letters sent by First Nations to-date:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-Kinounchepirini_Algonquin_FirstNation_Letter.jpg
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-SMH_Ottawa_Algonquin_FN_Support.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-10-AAFN_letter%20to_Ottawa.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Ottawa_Letter_From_Kichesipirini_Algonqiun_FN.pdf

And by Grandfather William Commanda:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-24_Circle_of_Nations-South_March_Highlands.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-12-20-GWC_Letter_To_Council.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-05-GWC-Message_Regarding_Development_at_South_March_Highlands

And by other Grandfathers:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-14-A_plea_for_the_forest-Grandfather_Albert_Dumond.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Grandfather_Lovelace_Letter_to_the_Editor_Revelation18.pdf

Motion passed unanimously by Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee: http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-12-Unanimous_AHCAC_Motion_on_SMH.pdf

Background info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZBcLvtcJBY (4 minute documentary video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-12-07-SMH-2-Stewardship_Plan_Overview_v4.pdf

Other Letters of Support (e.g. David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor, MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/

Submission to NCC on South March Highlands:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper%20App5%20-%20SMH.pdf

www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the coalition to protect the SMH)

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
ipsmo@riseup.net

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)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

– 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)

SOME ADDITIONAL HISTORY AND BACKGROUND:

-> 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]