Six Nations Solidarity Action: “Native protesters cause highway chaos”
June 11, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator [Ontario]
A protest march by Six Nations natives snarled traffic along some of greater Hamilton’s busiest highways today.
Several dozen natives on foot and in cars proceeded along the Red Hill Valley Parkway, Linc and Highway 403 to Brantford to protest the arming of border guards on the Akwesasne reserve in eastern Ontario.
The Six Nations group of up to about a dozen on foot, followed by a small convoy of cars, walked onto the southbound Red Hill Valley Parkway shortly after 8 a.m. with half a dozen Hamilton police cruisers, a motorcycle cop and one marked OPP cruiser behind.
Hamilton police, who patrol the Red Hill and the Linc, say they were informed of the protest last night and decided it was in the best interest of everyone to allow it to happen.
“We took a balanced approach, working with them and the community,” said media officer Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings.
“We wanted to make sure that, if it was going to take place, that it was done safely.”
Police escorted the natives up the fast lane of the parkway from Queenston Road, along the Linc, then west on 403 to Brantford, throwing traffic into chaos.
At times, traffic was backed up for kilometres.
Native spokesperson Jessie Anthony said women from Six Nations organized the protest yesterday after receiving a call for support from the Akwesasne reserve.
“We knew this was going to be a rolling blockade march to support what’s going on in Akwesasne.”
Spokesperson Dawn Smith said the Red Hill Valley falls within the Haldimand Tract.
“We chose to start at Queenston because it encompassed all the major highways that run along our territory.”
“It was because of the way the highways connect,” Anthony said. “It was more a decision on how many people we could reach to make them aware of the situation that’s going on in Akwesasne.”
The native marchers would not say if Hamilton is now on their radar for land-dispute protests.
“When we do this, we don’t pick an area and say ‘OK, we’re going to go and bother Hamilton or Brantford,’” Smith said.
“It depends on the situation, what is being developed and how it is going to affect our next seven generations,” Smith said.
The natives said Hamilton police expressed concerns about the march until they learned that protesters did not plan to block the highway completely.
Anthony said the arming of Canadian border guards on the reserve was tantamount to an armed occupation.
The natives also protested the closing of a bridge that connects the American and Canadian sides of the reserve.