Archive for the ‘Borders’ Category

Guelph: Road Blockade in Solidarity with the Mohawk Nation

[Contributed by Anonymous to news.infoshop.org, June 20 2009]


In the morning of June 17th 2009, a few people dressed in black blocked the Hanlon Highway at Paisley Road during rush hour.

Fallen trees and branches were pulled across the southbound lanes and two smoke bombs were set off to draw attention to the banner, which was dropped from the railway overpass. The banner read: “PARK YOUR CARS! Solidarity with the Mohawk Nation.”

This action was done to disrupt the transport of goods and people, especially those belonging to the Linamar Corporation. Linamar is a member of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which works to improve the efficiency of North American trade. Amongst its plans is the militarization and fortification of the borders and their guards. Like in Awkesasne, Tyendinaga and Peru, we too stand against the SPP and its projects.

Solidarity with the Mohawk Nation means ATTACK!

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Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards

CBC News [Ontario]
Last Updated: Monday, June 8, 2009

Mohawk protesters block access to the Skyway Bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County.  (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

Mohawk protesters block access to the Skyway Bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

About 40 Mohawk protesters blocked a bridge in eastern Ontario Sunday evening in support of a nearby First Nations community engaged in a standoff with the federal government over the arming of border guards.

Protesters blocked either side of the Skyway bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County.

Shawn Brant, a well-known activist in Tyendinaga, helped organize the blockade. Brant and other Mohawks plan to stay on the bridge until the federal government makes a commitment to hold what they describe as meaningful talks with Mohawks in Akwesasne. The Akwesasne territory is located near Cornwall, Ont., east of Kingston.



Talks between Mohawk officials from the Akwesasne and the Canada Border Services Agency broke down last weekend over the issue of arming guards assigned to posts on Cornwall island, which is in the middle of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state.

The border guards in Cornwall were set to start carrying 9-mm handguns last Monday, under a new federal policy enacted across the country. Instead, guards left their posts at midnight last Sunday, citing safety concerns, after hundreds of Mohawks set up camp near the border to protest the gun policy.

Canadian authorities then shut down the Seaway International Bridge into the United States at Cornwall last Monday. The bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence River, handles about 2.4 million crossings annually.

Possibility of closure

A boy joins Mohawk protesters at their demonstration. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

A boy joins Mohawk protesters at their demonstration. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

For the time being, travellers have been advised to use a point of entry at Prescott, which is 60 kilometres west, or the Dundee crossing, which is 17 kilometres southeast.

The Akwasasne protesters are angry about guards being allowed to carry guns, because they say it violates their sovereignty, and increases the likelihood of violent confrontations.

The federal public safety minister said Sunday the border crossing might be shut permanently unless Mohawk leaders accept a decision to arm border guards.

Peter Van Loan told CTV’s Question Period the government is examining all options, including moving the port of entry.

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Updates from No One Is Illegal – Montreal and links to corporate news articles

Mohawks gather near the Seaway International Bridge to protest the arming of border guards (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC)

Mohawks gather near the Seaway International Bridge to protest the arming of border guards (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC)

Update – 5:35am
Monday, June 1, 2009

— CBSA guards abandon posts
— Seaway International Bridge is blocked to vehicular traffic by police
— Protesters maintain presence at border crossing

Dawn is breaking on the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, where local residents have protested for months to oppose the arming of Canadian Borders Services Agency (CBSA) guards on their territory. More than 50 protesters are maintaining a presence near the Canadian customs building on Cornwall Island. There are at least five fires burning to keep demonstrators warm. Many more residents and supporters are expected to be on-site as the morning progresses.

According to residents of Akwesasne (as well as mainstream media reports), CBSA border agents abandoned their posts just before midnight, out of fear of reprisals from the community. CBSA agents were due to be armed at the Port of Cornwall crossing on June 1, a policy universally opposed and condemned by the Akwesasne Mohawk Community.

Vehicular traffic onto the Seaway International Bridge has been shut down by police on both sides of the border, although pedestrians are still being allowed to access the bridge.

The Mohawk territory of Akwesasne straddles the jurisdictions of Ontario, Quebec and New York State, and is a major international border crossing between Canada and the United States. CBSA guards began arming in 2007, and there are currently more than 800 armed CBSA guards across Canada. The entire CBSA aims to be armed, in stages, by 2016. The CBSA announced that their agents at the Port of Cornwall would be armed by June 1 of this year.

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Mohawks march on border in protest of arming guards

Posted By Michael Peeling
Cornwall Standard Freeholder [Ontario]
Monday, May 11, 2009

Hundreds of Mohawks marched across the Seaway International Bridge into Canada from the U. S. on Saturday to protest a plan to arm border guards.

And things are taking a more ominous tone as the protesters claim they’ll evict the federal government if necessary over the controversial issue.

The “unity rally,” organized by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, started with residents of the First Nation – which straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State – being bused from a tent set up beside the Canada Customs and Immigration office on Cornwall Island (known in Mohawk as Kawehnoke) into the U. S.

The tent is the staging ground for a month-long protest, which began on May 1, of the arming of Canadian Border Services Agency officers across the country on June 1, but particularly at the Cornwall Island crossing.

The protesters returned on foot led by Grand Chief Tim Thompson. They walked over the southern span of the bridge to the island behind a large banner reading “No Guns!” and chanting, “End the occupation of Akwesasne.”

Once the throng reached the yellow line indicating the border, they halted briefly before walking unchecked by CBSA officials into Canada. Many of the marchers made a circuit back around the customs and immigration building to stop by the checkpoint booths and office windows, where they chant, with signs reading: “The consequence of arming is eviction” against the windows and knock on the glass.

The protesters eventually marched back to the tent. An attempt to make a third circuit was met with little support.

MCA District Chief of Kanatakon (St. Regis, Que.) Larry King said the council worked out a safe passage for the protesters with the CBSA before the march.

“We’re marching to tell the federal government how strongly we feel about the message of no guns on our island,” King said. “There’s no need and no reason for the guards to have guns.”

King pointed out that Akwesasne Mohawk Police officers are armed and have an outpost at the border crossing if CBSA officials require assistance.

There are also unarmed Mohawk security officers contracted by the federal government to be stationed in the same building at all times.

The Mohawks of Akwesasne make up more than 70 per cent of the cross-border traffic at the Cornwall Island port of entry and feel they are unfairly singled out by border guards to be harassed and provoked into confrontations.

Community elder John Boots told of how his granddaughter, her boyfriend and their three children were pulled over at the border because the officers did not believe the one, two and four-year-olds were their children. She was still waiting to get their native status identification cards.

“The guards interrogated my great grandchildren to find out if my granddaughter is their mother,” Boots said. “How insensitive is that? One of them can’t even talk.”

Boots also said the CBSA attempted to brand a 14-year-old girl a terrorist and strip-searched her recently.

He added that the community is looking into getting help from the United Nations to address tensions with the CBSA.

MCA spokesman Brendan White says the council has a long list of complaints filed by tribe members over dealings with the CBSA, but none of them have been resolved to the complainants’ satisfaction by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

MCA spokesman Brendan White said the government never consulted with Akwesasne about the arming initiative, which was announced three years ago and is due to be complete by 2016.

White said a letter sent to past Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and requests to meeting current minister Peter Van Loan have been met with little or no response.

Thompson said Day refused to meet with the MCA over the arming issue.

“The time has come to express our displeasure over the arming of the guards,” Thompson said.

The march was not the end of the protest, said Thompson as he addressed the crowd. There are tentative plans for another rally in the coming weeks.

Rick Comerford, director general for the Northern Ontario Region of the CBSA, released a statement Saturday in response to the protest.

“The decision to arm border services officers ensures that they are given the tools they need to improve border security and enhance the safety of officers and the travelling public. Training and arming our officers to respond to potentially dangerous situations helps protect our communities.”

Comerford said he and CBSA president Stephen Rigby have met with the MCA to discuss the arming of border services officers at the Port of Cornwall as recently as May 4.

“We are committed to maintaining this dialogue,” Comerford said.


On the role of Canada’s colonial band councils, such as the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, see the following article:

How the Indian Act Made Indians Act Like Indian Act Indians (Warrior Publications)

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Solidarity Without Borders! Vancouver Action

[Posted by Break this Prison Society to friendsofgrassynarrows.com on June 18, 2008]

In Vancouver, Canada, on the night of June 16th, 2008 two surveillance cameras on Commercial Drive were visibly obscured by paint and the roof top and front doors of the “Ministry of Public Safety” (probation) building, also on Commercial Drive, were tagged with “Fuck Probation,” “Break the Prisons Now!” and “Solidarity Across Borders – Freedom is Our Crime!” In Vancouver, Canada, on the night of June 16th, 2008 two surveillance cameras on Commercial Drive were visibly obscured by paint and the roof top and front doors of the “Ministry of Public Safety” (probation) building, also on Commercial Drive, were tagged with “Fuck Probation,” “Break the Prisons Now!” and “Solidarity Across Borders – Freedom is Our Crime!”

This act was done as part of a week of “Solidarity Without Borders,” called for because of the arrest and imprisonment of 5 people in France on charges ranging from conspiracy to attack a juvenile detention centre, trying to sabotage a police vehicle, and possession of explosives. Of the four who were imprisoned for four months, now one, Isa, still remains in prison under “preventative detention” under anti-terror measures.

It was reported in the news, that when a bus was burned and tagged “Riot Now” on Commercial Drive last Halloween, investigators said the footage from the surveillance cameras across the street did not reach far enough to capture the perpetrators. The cameras targeted with paint must be these very cameras.

The “Ministry of Public Safety” is where people report for probation, the monitoring and restriction of life outside of prison walls. This same office was graffitied and it’s locks glued on the night that indigenous warrior John Graham was deported to South Dakota, in December 2007. He remains in prison awaiting trail, framed-up for the 1970’s murder of his friend and comrade Anna Mae Aquash.

This act is a negation and an embrace. Denying the control of the camera and the law over our possibilities, this act embraces solidarity with all the others who fight for freedom in the destruction of prisons and this prison society.

– We can break this prison society. Solidarity is our Weapon!

For information on other actions during the week of solidarity, or to read an English translation of the inspiring words of Bruno and Ivan, 2 of the arrested in France for carrying smoke bombs (what the police are calling, explosives) on the way to a demonstration at an immigrant detention centre…
go to:

French: http://cettesemaine.free.fr/spip/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=68

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Conditional sentence for grief-stricken bank robber

Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, March 14, 2008

A young man who lost his family in an arson fire and then robbed two Vancouver banks in a “desperate act” to provide for his pregnant fiance was given a 20-month conditional sentence today.

Bolingo Etibako, 18, thanked Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Joe Galati for the conditional sentence, saying he was “truly sorry for this stupid decision I made” and promised not to disappoint him.

Etibako, who pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery in connection with two bank holdups in January, will spend about a third of his sentence under house arrest. A third robbery charge was stayed.

Bank robbery is a federal offence and usually carries a minimum two- to nine-year prison term.

Crown counsel Helen James asked for an eight- to 12-month prison sentence followed by probation, noting that Etibako had a “very disturbing background” but that the robberies were on the serious end of the scale.

Etibako walked into the two banks, both on West 10th Avenue, and demanded $10,000 from the manager, threatening to take hostages if he didn’t get the money. He never produced a weapon, but indicated he had one under his jacket.

James said the bank managers had reported that Etibako was “intimidating and threatening” when demanding the money. Yet, she added, his tune seemed to change when he was given cash, and at times was apologetic, telling one teller “‘I’m sorry, eh … this is my job, Robin Hood,'” James said.

He was caught by police shortly after the first robbery with some dyed bills; the second robbery was committed shortly after he got out of jail and the haul included “bait” $20 notes.

Galati ruled a conditional sentence was appropriate given Etibako’s age and history. But he weighted it with a list of conditions, including weapons and alcohol prohibitions, house arrest for six months, curfews, counselling for his anger and potential mental health problems and a no-go order within a two-block radius of the banks he robbed.

Galati also warned Etibako that if he breaks any of the conditions, he could face jail time.

“If you’re out past your curfew or do what you’re not supposed to be doing … and you get caught, you’ll be brought back, not in front of another judge, but in front of me,” Galati said.

“I gave you what you should definitely consider a break this time. It’s up to you to consider whether I’ll give you a break a second time.”

Defence counsel David Karp said that if Etibako – a permanent resident of Canada – was given a two-year jail term he could be deported back to the Congo, where he emigrated from with his family when he was nine. Although that risk still exists, Karp said said, it’s not as significant.

He said Etibako has learned his lesson while spending two months in jail. The robberies, he said, “were acts of a desperate man” who had suffered a great deal as a boy.

Etibako was the only survivor of an arson attack against his family’s East Vancouver home that killed his mother, three siblings and his then-girlfriend in 2006.

“He was very desperate to provide for [his fiance] and have a life for himself and his family,” Karp said. “He was in a situation where he wasn’t able to earn money to where he went to being in custody for two months. He realizes this isn’t the way to go.”

He said the robberies were “unsophisticated crimes” and Etibako wants to get back on track. He has the support of his aunt and brother, he said, as well as members of his church, the Calvary Worship Centre in New Westminster.

Etibako, who will live in New Westminster, also asked for house arrest.

“I feel this is good for me because I’ll get the services I need to get better. Being locked up is not what I need,” Etibako said prior to sentencing. “I’m really sorry for these events and I can’t believe what I was going through.”

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Paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant arrested in hospital

Tuesday, August 14
Jim Goddard

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS1130) – A paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant who sought refuge in an Abbotsford temple has been arrested. Supporters of Laibar Singh say he was arrested by Abbortsford Police and Canadian Border Services at MSA Hospital, where he’s been since last Thursday on the advice of his doctor.

The group No One is Illegal believes even though Singh was in the hospital, the protection provided by the temple should have continued because he was in the company [of] the temple president. Singh first sough refuge in the temple July 7th after being ordered deported because he entered Canada with a bogus passport.

His supporters say he had to use the fake passport because he had been falsely accused of terrorist activity in India.

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Paralysed man ducks deportation
Laibar Singh, in Canada illegally on a fake passport, takes sanctuary in Sikh temple

Chantal Eustace, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, July 09, 2007

Laibar Singh’s eyes flickered and watered on Sunday as a crowd of shouting supporters circled his wheelchair outside an Abbotsford Sikh temple where the paralysed refugee claimant sought sanctuary on the weekend.

Singh, who entered the country with a fake passport four years ago, had been scheduled to be deported Sunday afternoon.

Instead, with the help of friends, the 48-year-old father of four wheeled out of his care facility, the George Pearson Centre in Vancouver, and left by taxi Friday afternoon.

The group visited numerous temples in the Lower Mainland before ending up at the Gurdwara Kalgidhar Darbar Sahib Society — the temple in Abbotsford that Singh calls his sanctuary.

As long as Singh is inside the temple, he won’t be removed by officials, said Faith St. John, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency.

Singh, who became paralysed last year after he suffered an aneurysm, requires regular medical attention — including dialysis — and he cannot feed himself.

Singh fled to Canada in 2003, saying he had been falsely accused of having links to a Sikh militant group, the Khalistan Commando Force.

Since then his applications for refugee status — including an exemption on humanitarian and compassionate grounds — failed.

The government never accepted his claims that he would be at risk of cruel and unusual punishment if he returned.

A pre-removal risk assessment found the purported risks were based on facts that were “not credible.”

On Sunday, Singh said that despite his health concerns, he feels safe and secure at the temple.

“I don’t want to go to India. Why should I go to India?” Singh told the media Sunday, with the help of a translator.

His head wrapped in a gold scarf, Singh appeared tired and spoke quietly.

What will happen if he goes back to India?

“I will die, certainly I will die. I want to stay in Canada. I want to stay in the Sikh temple,” Singh said. “They are day and night serving for me. They are helping [support] me and I am getting very good service from them and they will look after me.”

Singh said he feels optimistic the government will grant him refugee status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

“The government can do everything,” Singh said. “I’d like to say to [Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day] to please look at my case, consider my case and cancel my deportation.”

A widower, Singh has two daughters, aged 20 and 13, and a son, 16, at the family home, and one married daughter, all in India.

Harsha Walia, a spokeswoman for the refugee rights group, No One is Illegal, said she is worried about Singh’s health now that he is out of hospital.

“He needs imminent medical care within the next 24 hours,” Walia said.

Walia said Singh, who is not expected to recover from his condition, faced difficult options — deportation or sanctuary in a temple — neither of which satisfied his urgent health needs.

“Really, the only way to get him the best care is if his deportation is stayed and he gets appropriate care,” Walia said.

Harpal Singh Nagra, a spokesman for the South Asian Human Rights Group, said members of the Sikh community are working with the temple to help with Singh’s medical care, including the expenses.

“This is a community responsibility now,” Nagra said, adding the temple is already consulting with medical experts. “We will look after him. We will try.”

It takes four people to lift Singh in and out of bed, said gurdwara president Swarn Singh Gill.

“He’s a handicapped guy. He can’t eat. He can’t do anything,” said Gill, shaking his head. “It’s a very sad story for him. We don’t want him sent back to India or anywhere.”

He said the temple committee decided to continue to help Singh as long as he follows the rules of the gurdwara.

“We like to help the handicapped people, the poor people and anyone who comes in the temple,” Gill said.

Darjit Chawla was among about 50 men and women who gathered around Singh outside the temple Sunday, waving posters and signs or simply applauding or cheering.

“He should stay here,” said Chawla, who lives in Surrey. “I believe he should.”

The temple should be considered a sanctuary, safe from authorities, Nagra repeated several times to the crowd.

“Police and immigration does not have any right to go to this temple,” Nagra said. “The community is not going to accept it.”

Border service agency spokeswoman St. John said that while the government doesn’t condone people seeking sanctuary in a place of worship to evade deportation, it will not intervene.

“Even though there’s no legal impediment to us removing someone from a place of worship, we will not go into a place of worship to remove them,” she said.

Jane Dyson, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities — a group that has been petitioning the government on Singh’s behalf — said she felt most worried about his well-being. “We are concerned about his health,” Dyson said. “Apparently he needs dialysis every three days.”

As for Singh, he said, he doesn’t plan to go out of the boundaries of the sanctuary.

“I want to stay here,” Singh said. “I want to stay my whole life and I want to die here.”

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