Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Responds to Ottawa Citizen Story – August 30, 2011

AKWESASNE MOHAWK TERRITORY- In response to an article published on August 19, 2011 in the Ottawa Citizen, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne questions Canadian Ministry of Public Safety Vic Toews’ encouragement of private citizens to bear arms, the suggestion to close the Cornwall Port of Entry altogether, and the article’s comparison of “tribal outlaws” and the St. Lawrence River to Northern Pakistan. The article, “Living in Smuggler’s Paradise” is political propaganda and media sensationalism at it’s worst, and the people of Akwesasne don’t deserve defamation at any level, especially not from federal officials.
“Akwesasne has been asking for a meeting with Minister Toews since the beginning of his term, and the answer has been a consistent ‘no,” said Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell.   “He has refused, and yet was photographed making statements about Akwesasne for this article just a few miles from our territory.”
The Mohawk Council chiefs have publicly asked for cooperation from the Canadian government in tackling the tobacco black market issue, but rather than work with us, Minister Toews elected to discuss us and our situation without ever having been to Akwesasne or sitting down with MCA leaders.
Among the disturbing statements made by Minister Toews in the article is his apparent encouragement for private citizens to use guns if they have “legitimate” reason to.
“Our community has historically fought against gun violence,” said Grand Chief Mitchell.  “The very issue with CBSA at the Cornwall port began when our people protested the arming of guards there.  Guns were not the answer to border security and they are not the answer to the Canadian tobacco black market.”
Mohawk Council Chief Brian David states, “Without ever meeting us, Minister Toews – a high-ranking member of Canada’s Parliament – can encourage nothing short of gun violence, when his role is to look out for all of Canada’s safety. His proposed solution to organized crime is legislation calling on the citizenry to bear arms. This is truly disheartening. To me, it is more an admission that the policy direction of the Department of Public Security has failed.”
While the article clearly identifies outside organized crime groups taking advantage of an unsecured border, both Toews and the Ottawa Citizen continue to place Akwesasne at blame for Canada’s tobacco tax problems and the existence of mafia-like organizations in the country.
The article misguides readers, fueling hatred and misconception, while attempting to paint all Akwesasne residents as violent and lawless cottage burners.
“Akwesasne is not a criminal community,” said Grand Chief Mitchell.  “As in any society there are a small number that participate in crime. The real enemy we have is the international boundary line that cuts through the middle of our territory and which outside criminal organizations take advantage of.”
“Because of the five jurisdictions that further divide the community into Quebec, Ontario, New York State, and the United States and Canada, it is extremely hard to develop a legitimate economic strategy,” the Grand Chief continued.  “Three months ago the Mohawk Council wrote a letter to President Obama and Prime Minister Harper making them aware of this fact, of the desire for the Mohawks of Akwesasne to develop a legitimate economy as a way to negate any illegal activity. We need the support of outside governments to make this happen. Suggesting that private citizens should carry guns is not the answer.”
The article also blames the current Port of Entry at Cornwall for an alleged increase in illegal river activity and suggests closing the crossing entirely.  However, doing so would only work against both Akwesasne and CBSA, and the Ottawa Citizen as well as Minister Toews are seemingly unaware of progressive efforts.
“The strained relationship in the past with CBSA happened for a number of reasons,” said Grand Chief Mitchell.  “CBSA worked in isolation and knew very little about our community, our history, culture and traditions.  Over the past two years, Mohawk leadership and CBSA officials have made progress to address border matters by the hiring of an aboriginal liaison person at the port, development of a cultural sensitivity course for CBSA staff, and the commitment by CBSA to hire First Nations guards. Closing the crossing would be counterproductive and disastrous for the Cornwall, Massena and Akwesasne economies.”
MCA has and will continue to ask the Canadian government to work with us in a peaceful resolution to criminal activity.
“Guns are not the answer,” Grand Chief Mitchell said.  “As we have learned in past years, we should be promoting peaceful resolution at all cost.”

2 Responses to "Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Responds to Ottawa Citizen Story – August 30, 2011"

  1. Grimalot   August 30, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    This says a lot about the press pansies such as some at the Ottawa Citizen and also quite a bit about Vic Toew’s hypocritical attitude towards not only gay people being a threat to marriage values, but also about his probable outlook towards the native communities.

    enjoy the read. It’s very much true. The guy just doesn’t give a crap.

  2. Glassbowl   October 22, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Closing the port of entry down is the best solution. Why he is even considering moving the point of entry is beyond me.

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