PROGRESS ON BRIDGE NEGOTIATIONS?

PROGRESS ON BRIDGE NEGOTIATIONS?

I still think the bridge will be open by August 1 🙂  Hopefully today’s meeting in Ottawa will help inch things forward.

AKWESASNE LEADERS REPORT ON JULY 7TH MEETING WITH
CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY

AKWESASNE —For the second time in one week, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Grand Chief Mike Mitchell and District Chiefs met with Canada Border
Services Agency Officials on Tuesday, July 7th to discuss the border
closure. It follows an introductory meeting that took place on July 1st in
Morrisburg, Ontario between the new Grand Chief, Kawehnoke Chief Wesley
Benedict, CBSA President Stephen Rigby and Executive Vice President Luc
Portelence. Yesterday’s meeting in Ottawa was joined by Tsi Sniahne Chief
Bill Sunday, Kanatakon Chief Larry King and CBSA Director Barbara Hebert.

According to Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, “The first meeting we had with the
CBSA President was for fact-finding and a chance to formally introduce
each other. It resulted from a request placed with Rigby’s Office on June
30th to begin talking about issues of mutual concern. These initial
meetings were productive and having them right away shows the seriousness
that everyone is taking towards the current situation.”

At yesterday’s meeting in Ottawa, both sides had initially reached a
mutual understanding that would have temporarily re-opened the border
crossing as long-term solutions were pursued. In two (2) weeks, a
temporary customs facility would be placed in Cornwall at the base of the
Seaway International Bridge’s North Span for all border crossings to
resume. It would remain operational for four (4) months and be manned by
CBSA Officers trained to carry firearms.

At the end of that time, the Canada Customs facility on Kawehnoke would
re-open for four (4) months and be manned by unarmed CBSA Officers. To
provide for the safety and security of customs facility and the Akwesasne
community, additional law enforcement would be stationed at the Port of
Entry on Kawehnoke. They would have the full-time support of Mohawk
Security Service, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services and other law
enforcement agencies, possibly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The temporary arrangement would be reviewed at the conclusion of the eight
(8) months. The time period would be a “test” for both sides to compromise
and a measure of good faith by Akwesasne and CBSA. It would provide
healing and a better understanding to the sensitivity of our unique
geographical location, as well as consideration for our proud culture and
traditions. It is consistent with ongoing efforts to achieve a peaceful
resolution to the border closure.

In addition to discussions on temporary measure to re-open the border
crossing, thirteen (13) Points of Issue were presented and working tables
were proposed by the MCA on behalf of the Mohawks of Akwesasne. The tables
resulting work would provide a better understanding of each side and the
issues we need to address together.  These tables will include, but may
not be limited to:
1.      Gun issue at Canada Customs
2.      Racial Profiling (Requires a serious inquiry – and thorough review)
3.      Inquiry of Human Rights Complaints
4.      Establishing Increased Native Employment at Canada Customs
5.      Cultural Sensitivity Training
6.      Expropriation of Customs Facility (Commercial)
7.      Mohawk Security Duties& Responsibilities
8.      Remissions Order (updated & expanded – dominion of Department of
Finance to be involved)
9.      Mohawk Security Guards Contract
10.     Liaison Position (between Canada Customs and Akwesasne Community)
11.     CBSA officers (problem areas of concern resolve and deal with past
conduct of officers)
12.     Loss of Economic (Business & Individuals – will require separate
discussions from CBSA – agreement to look at impact to community)
13.     Program for community native border identification cards for ease of
transit

Both parties acknowledge that a comprehensive education process has to be
developed and implemented to discuss and convey information to one another
for future understanding and implementation of resulting recommendations
and/or agreements derived from the tables

“We have been told that CBSA is looking for ways to meet their mandate for
the national arming initiative and is MCA’s duty and responsibility to
bring forth Akwesasne’s issues to proper authorities,” stated the Grand
Chief. He added, “It is becoming clear that another party is dictating the
issue. We will attempt to resolve this matter with CBSA in ongoing
discussions.”

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