I had the opportunity to sit around the fire Monday night after Cornwall City Council. It was interesting. No other reporters; only about a dozen or so people.
I introduced myself, but didn’t take out my notepad, recorder, or camera. I explained I just wanted opinions and discussion for background because frankly there seem to be an awful lot of factions in Akwesasne and a form of government by consensus which makes it difficult for the black and white laws of Western Society.
I sat with these people; enjoyed their hospitality, and did more listening than speaking other than asking questions and a picture became clear from this group.
Their perspective seemed to be that the various governments had been lying and cheating them for over 500 years so this crisis was nothing new. They talked about having to be represented by groups mandated on them by the US and Canadian governments.
They said a lot of things; some of which I’m sure my lawyer would never allow me to print in public but still were interesting.
What did become clear is that perspective and good will are very very important especially if the goal is to live in peace and prosperity.
Here’s the recap:
The Harper Government promises Guns for Canada Border Guards.
Akwesasne says no to armed guards in their territory.
Depending on who you talk to not much discussion took place to resolve the issue at this one station.
May 31, 2009 reacting to a basically peaceful protest Canada closed its station until a resolution could be implemented. This was a good move in that it prevented the potential for violence in a highly charged and emotional situation.
After approximately six weeks and one MCA election, while alleged progress was being made via negotiation, the US allowed traffic to flow through which resulted in a hastily erected Canadian border crossing at the foot of the bridge on Brookdale avenue.
The only injury to date has been a Customs officer injured by a wayward tent, and a lot of hurtful things said from some very disturbed racist type people.
Businesses and individuals have been financially impacted to varying degrees and a few businesses have actually improved. IE Ask any gas station in Cornwall if they want the bridge open.
We now have one closed border station with no armed guns.
Hmm….who wanted that solution?
Further more with the current border crossing location it’s now possible to go over to the island and purchase items without entering the US. Coming back how much clout does Canada Customs have in preventing or being involved in transactions done within the borders of Canada?
How easy is it going to be for Canada Customs to charge or prove any claims by citizens? We also have a potential traffic dilemma for Cornwall.
So folks thus our headline. I’m not sure what not discussing and negotiating issues of concern with citizens, Mohawk, or not, resolves?
It sure is going to be an interesting summer and fall. I do hope that there is some solution to move back to the station on the Island before winter.
Contrary to what’s been written by some I think most people on the Island and off appreciate that those working at the border crossing are basically good people doing their jobs as best as they can.
Just like most people realize that not everyone living on the Island isn’t a gun toting balaclava wearing smuggler.
Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News
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