Dear MCA – Time to Dim Down the Rhetoric Over CBSA Crossing by Jamie Gilcig 111517

Cornwall Ontario –  You really can’t have your cake and eat it too as MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict doesn’t quite understand.  

When the people of Akwesasne rejected having a CBSA border crossing where it had  been historically if Union members wore arms,  it ultimately inflicted a lot of pain in the community.

Right now residents returning from Snye or the US have to still drive to the new CBSA digs in Cornwall just to turn around and head home.    This has caused a lot of grief for the community of Akwesasne, and frankly anyone having to cross at certain times of the day including this writer who endured a very long Monday afternoon return trip to Cornwall.

A potential solution was leaked, about having a remote station near where the old CBSA digs were which led to a rejection from the union.    There still are a lot of sore feelings from the bridge closure drama of 2010.

Chief Benedict was quoted in other area media:

MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict described the objections expressed by union president Jean-Pierre Fortin on behalf of local border agents as being “ misinformed.” It is the people of Akwesasne who will decide whether the alternative reporting station is allowed to go ahead, said the grand chief. The federal government has made a better relationship with First Nations a priority, and the union should get with the program.

“The current government of Canada is about relationship building … and improving relationships with all partners including Indigenous partners. So I find his comments to be not in line with the rest of the political bodies and representative organizations are saying in this day and age,” said Benedict. “We will continue to negotiate with the federal government, and not the union.”

That tone simply isn’t productive.   The Chief is only half right.  If CBSA is WILLING to have a remote station it still has to go through its union.  It’s not the Chief’s call in the big picture, and frankly his community and the union ultimately have to live together with whichever resolution is decided or if there is no change.

Should CBSA Put a Remote Station on Cornwall Island?

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And ultimately the remote station will not happen because of the MCA’s stance on agents being armed on Cornwall Island, and the agents very valid concern that if an emergency occurred at the remote station their actions could result in a …..mess.


  1. The Native people are going to have to make that decision. There is a great deal of smuggling and it has to stop. I met a woman yesterday at the cutting table for my material and she went to the US to shop and said that it wasn’t worth it by the time she got back and had to pay all the taxes. I told her that I no longer go over there since a mighty long time.

  2. There is a reason WHY the old CBSA on the island was made bulletproof. In fact, it was the ONLY one of its type in all of Canada. It also had a Heliport on the roof for evacuation if necessary. So,..i ask…why is this? Why was it common for shots to be fired at the offices almost on a daily occurrence? Uncivilized actions and safety of human life was a HUGE factor. Now live with it.

  3. Grand Chief Benedict, this is called “KARMA” …….Michael Miller you nailed it ! The Cornwall Port of Entry , has been the most problematic of any crossing in Canada.

  4. Cornwall needs a massive cleanup in every way (not just one) but in every way. Cornwalls reputation is black and I mean black. The teacher that we know about has not stopped laughing when he hears about Cornwall. The owner of our building laughs as well and for us to have moved in a major snow storm he laughed at his desk to see all this happening including some of the previous tenants.

  5. It’s ironic that by blocking CBSA from having sidearms, someone shot themself in the foot.

  6. Be careful about what you ask for in this case is hindsight. Take a stand, be American or Canadian or whatever but this “partnership” has proven over considerable time not to be fruitful. Where is the “change” that the Liberals promised? More lip service?

  7. Why wasn’t the cbsa put in Cornwall in the first place? How and why did it have to be on Mohawk land? I’ve never seen a story on the history of those negotiations, if it was a negotiation at all. If they were forced to put up with the cbsa there just like their children were kidnaped and forced to go to residential schools, I can see where tension would arise. As if natives bully the government.

  8. As close to the U.S.A. border as possible, is the reasoning behind the original CBSA location.

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