I personally was very disturbed to read about the bridge being open this morning.
Not that I don’t want the bridge open, but in the manner that it was done.
To arbitrarily take action like this without consulting the MCA to me is just wrong if that’s what happened as reported here.
It’s upping the ante. If the natives do nothing then the Harper government after a few months would use that as an arguement point to move back armed to the old station or decide to build a new station.
The MCA or some faction blockades the bridge as I’ve heard will be done tonight which will give the government the excuse to close the bridge permenantly.
Surely there is a better way to resolve this impasse.
This weekend I’ve heard and read rumblings about the recent election of Grand Chief and that some on the Island would dispute any agreement signed by the new chief. Perhaps that is why this action by the Canadian Government.
Here is a release from the MCA today:
MOHAWK COUNCIL OF AKWESASNE ISSUES STATEMENT ON
REOPENING OF BORDER CROSSING
AKWESASNE – At 6am this morning, the Canada Border Services Agency established a temporary customs facility at the foot of the North Span for the Three Nations Bridge Crossing. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne views this as an interim solution to the border closure that has impacted Akwesasne and our neighboring communities since June 1st. The MCA is committed to having ongoing discussions with the CBSA to reach a long-term solution to the facility’s future and resolution to the concerns raised by the community of Akwesasne.
According to MCA Grand Chief Michael Mitchell, “The opening of a temporary facility over the weekend was hasty decision made by the CBSA. It was made in response to the increasing number of travelers being allowed to cross from the United States into Canada and news that the New York State Police were being pulled from the South Span today. Their counterparts in Washington also voiced concern at a meeting last week that CBSA has not been found a solution.” He added, “While we’re glad to see a temporary facility open, we want to remind everyone that there are some outstanding issues that need to be addressed.”
At a meeting held in Ottawa last week, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Canada Border Services Agency have concluded that for the foreseeable future that armed CBSA Officers will not return to the Cornwall Island customs given the opposition that exists. The opening of an interim customs facility on the Cornwall side of the bridge crossing was their response to allow border traffic to resume. It was understood that immediate steps needed to be taken to minimize the hardships that have been faced by local residents, surrounding communities, and the traveling public. During this period off the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, local residents are reminded that the CBSA is permitting it customs officers to carry their firearm. The MCA is asking all travelers and customs officers to conduct themselves in a respectful and peaceful manner
The MCA is viewing this temporary arrangement as a trial phase to determine how our people will be treated by the customs officers. During the previous two meetings, the MCA stressed the importance of having a liaison person be appointed to ensure effective communication channels are open and utilized at all times between the Akwesasne community and the CBSA. The MCA view is as an opportunity for both sides to develop a better relationship.
The MCA indicated the need for Mohawk residents to return home on Kawehnoke without having to report to the temporary port in Cornwall. A remedy entails working with the Mohawk Security Services for the security of the Cornwall Island Customs and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services to ensure the direct flow of traffic through the international corridor of non-residents. In addition to an interim solution to the border closure, the Mohawk Council emphasized the need to have the CBSA address issues of racial profiling, harassment and intimidation by individual officers. The MCA insisted that action needs to be taken on the few customs officers that comprise the majority of complaints that have been filed by community members against the CBSA. Two of these cases have been forwarded and are currently active before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
The MCA and the CBSA reached agreement that an effort needs to be made in the immediate future to locate and hire a compliment of First Nation’s customs officers. Given that the Port of Entry was located on First Nations Territory, the CBSA should look at ways to work with the immediate community, as approximately 70 percent of border travelers are local residents.
The Mohawk Council also stated that a list of thirteen (13) grievances presented at the July 7th meeting needs to be discussed and addressed by the CBSA right away. These range from looking at the arming initiative and the requirement of cultural sensitivity training to the Remissions Order and the economic losses due to the border closure. It was also agreed that working tables be set-up to look at each of these grievances.
“The Mohawk Council insists that the CBSA begin work right away on the issues raised on behalf of the comm.
unity of Akwesasne,” stated Grand Chief Mitchell. He further noted, “To avoid a repeat of events at the temporary facility, the MCA proposed that trained First Nations customs officers be transferred from other border crossings.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, as well as in correspondences, both sides reached a general agreement that more discussions must take place to underscore the importance of these actions. Additional meetings will be scheduled in the immediate future between the MCA and the CBSA to formalize the agreements.
So there you have it folks. The bridge is open. Hopefully it’ll be open for good, but things have to improve very fast.
What do you think will happen? Feel free to answer our poll as well.
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It’s ironic that the safety of CBSA officers was used as an excuse to close the Akwesasne post, and on day one an officer is taken away by ambulance because a temporary structure fell over on him (not to mention the near hits by vehicles).
Dear, dear, dear… there are two kinds of example, and the one set by the politics, poor planning, haphazard responses, Van Loan and Moran, is one that explains why there is so little respect for the CBSA and its ability to fulfil the role dropped on it.