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Seskehko:wa/ September 18, 2009
Akwesasne —This morning, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) took unilateral action against Mohawks from the community of Akwesasne. In particular, CBSA started civil seizure actions against Akwesasronon who travel to Kawehnoke, but not to Cornwall. When these vehicles make a trip to Cornwall at a later time, the CBSA has started and intends to seize their vehicles unless a $1,000 bounty is paid to CBSA.The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne views this action as aggressive and totally inconsistent with the cooperative approach that had been taken by CBSA in meetings with the Akwesasne Leadership Task Force. Much progress has been made in the discussions and the Leadership had committed to a plebescite before the end of October that could potentially lead to a return by the CBSA to Kawehnoke.
The decision of the CBSA to act in this manner at this time is deeply disturbing to the Akwesasne leadership and community. It is not a good faith action and is extremely detrimental to the process to seek reconciliation of past grievances. It was this very treatment of the Akwesasne community that led to the abandonment of the Kawehnoke Port by CBSA to begin with.
The Akwesasne leadership is pursuing all political and legal actions to stop this attack on the Mohawk community. Meetings are being requested with appropriate political leadership to discuss this action. Lawyers are being consulted to seek an injunction to stop the civil seizures from occurring.
The CBSA has provided no rationale for this disturbing action. Akwesasronon traveling to Kawehnoke present no threat to Canada. They are not entering Canada, but traveling only within Mohawk territory. When they do travel to Cornwall, they report at the Cornwall Port as do every other visitor to Canada.
The CBSA already has agreements at other Ports of Entry that allow local residents to report by telephone at night as the Port is closed, but residents are allowed to return home. Akwesasne leadership offered the services of the Mohawk Security Detail at the abandoned Kawehnoke Port and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police as reporting authorities for Mohawk travelers going to Kawehnoke, as well as many travelers returning home. These possibilities have been discussed with CBSA, but they have refused to consider them.
The Akwesasne leadership is urging all community members to stop going to Cornwall while political and legal solutions to CBSA’s hostile actions are addressed. The leadership regrets that CBSA’s actions once again threaten the relationship between the Cornwall and Akwesasne communities, but the interests of the Mohawk community must be addressed. It also undermines the good faith that has been extended by the Akwesasne leadership to CBSA and the government of Canada.
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