Here goes a few missives that I’ve received. I’ll post comments to them after this post:
Letter to the Editor:
Watkwanonweraton – Greetings
I remember being taught by my great teacher Ray Tehanetorens Fadden about
my own Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) identity. He relayed to me something that
made me very proud to be a member of the Mohawk Nation, who are one of the
five founding members of this ancient confederacy.
A man known as the Peacemaker came to warring nations and brought with him
an idea of peace. These ideas were accepted by the Seneca, Cayuga,
Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk who became known as the Haudenosaunee (the
people of the Longhouse). Later the Tuscarora accepted the constitution
of the Haudenosaunee as their own. The constitution was known as the
Kaianerekowa or Great Law of Peace.
I remember committing to memory the preamble of our ancient constitution
that opened this philosophy of peace to all those who wanted it. In part
“In the shade of the Great Tree of Peace, we spread the soft white
feathery down of the Great Globe Thistle as seats for you, Tadodaho and
your cousin lords. There shall you sit and watch the council fire of the
Five Nations. Roots have grown out from the Great Tree of Peace—one to
the east, one to the north, one to the south and one to the west—and they
shall encircle the Earth, so that all people may trace these roots to
their source and shall be welcome to take shelter beneath the tree.”
Canada was once very skillful in its interactions with our people and many
historic relationships were forged. Canadian history recounts how
Akwesasne Mohawks assisted Sir John Johnson in his escape from the
Americans. That is when Akwesasne carried that large contingent of people
through the Adirondacks when they were very weak and set them up a place
to stay on Akwesasne’s north shore. Akwesasne had played many key roles
in the formation of Canada as an independent country.
Now with the placement of European –type institutions within our
territory, Canada needs to learn from our traditions. These include our
protocols for a friendly first meeting of our neighbors. In our own home
communities, we do not require our visitors to face body searches and
threats by guns. Instead, we give words of peace to our visitors in a
special welcoming ceremony, where we clear grief and unclear thinking from
Today, Canada has much to learn about negotiations and how to build
relationships between peoples. Consultation with people is one method of
preventing issues from arising and good faith negotiations can be a good
method of working through contentious issues. Whatever the case,
communication and interaction must occur.
I am from Kawehnoke, the island which holds Canada Customs. I am proud
that our people have used our legacy of peace as the path to follow in our
campaign against guns.
What is needed now, are clear minds and the willingness to talk with each
other, not the aggressive statements by the Minister of Public Safety
claiming that gun carrying border guards will make our community safer.
I urge good Canadians to write to their Government Representatives to ask
them to repeal the policy for armed border guards at Akwesasne and urge
the Canadian government to open the border so that Akwesasne can again
function as one community.
Ernest Kaientaronkwen Benedict
–Ernest Benedict, (Akwesasne Mohawk), is a 91 year old elder and resident
of Kawehnoke where Canada Customs is located in Akwesasne. He is a
recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree and of the Aboriginal
Achievement Award. He has instructed at various schools including Manitou
College, Trent University and the First Nations Technical Institute.”
“Subject: URGENT PLEA TO CITIZENS OF CORNWALL
WE ALL NEED TO PITCH IN TO SAVE OUR CITIES!!!
Did you know that implementation date to arm all border guards in Canada is
This is 2009!!! The Mohawks and CBSA have 7 years to work this out.
Closing this bridge has caused over 200 job losses (36 lay-offs at one
company alone), a drop in revenue to businesses by 30% in Canton,
Roosveltown & Massena NY, a drop of 15% in Cornwall Ontario and a drop of
25% in Akwesasne and businesses are already closing their
Minister Van Loan who lives 650km away and doesn’t really give a hoot, is
the person responsible for this.
All he has to say is “the new implementation date for arming the guards at
Cornwall has been postponed to June 1, 2013″ and voila – why is he drawing
an unnecessary line in the sand?
And remember one thing : the crossing is not closed because there are a
few elders under a tent manning the 24/7 protest (a few days ago it was 1
elder wrapped in a blanket playing a guitar), it is closed because the
Canada Border Services Agency guards walked off the job – period!
They are welcome to return anytime…..the Mohawks are not saying NO GUNS
despite popular belief – they are saying no guns until we can discuss the
issues we have with said guns.
But no one is listening and Peter Van Loan refuses to meet with them!!!
Be heard! Call or Email Peter Van NOW and demand that the implementation
date be delayed !
Call him at 1-877-738-3748
We need our bridge back and our friends from the US and Akwesasne back!!!
Todd & Josée Sauve
PS – Todd has also sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper which
asks 4 questions and we hope to get answers or at the very least, promote
some awareness. Yesterday it was emailed, faxed and mailed to Harper,
Lauzon and Van Loan. Tonight, I plan on sending it out to the remaining
306 MPs in the hopes of getting them talking about this and making Van
I beg that these four questions be answered as no one here can understand
why Minister Van Loan is being allowed to shut our cities down:
1. Is the fact that we are very small cities (Cornwall: 45,000,
Akwesasne: 8,000, Massena: 13,000) and a tiny port of entry that sees an
average of about 8,000 travellers a day, the reason that we don’t matter?
Would the same actions be taken if this were let’s say, the Detroit/Windsor
bridge and tunnel that sees 100,000 travellers a day? Would it be kept
shut for weeks, months and as it now appears….years?
2. Is there a reason, that Minister Van Loan is not delaying the arming of
the border guards at the Cornwall/Massena port of entry when the
implementation date for the arming of all guards across Canada is 2016 and
this is 2009?
3. Can Canadian laws be changed so that a Minister of a riding 650km
away cannot have the power to cripple three cities, without any say from
said cities’ own Minister or American counter-parts?
4. Can you please provide me with further information for the steps I
must take, as a business owner, to apply for financial compensation? If
there is a form that I need to complete, I will need an extra 700 copies
to pass on to all the affected businesses in Cornwall, ON and Akwesasne,
and I also ask where my American neighbours can apply for financial
compensation from Canada…the US should not pay for this as this is a crisis
caused entirely by the Canadian government, and more specifically, the
Minister of Public Safety & Security.
As everyday cripples us more, a timely answer to my queries would be
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