Mohawks call for peace on eve of arming guards
- Mohawks call for peace on eve of arming guards
By David Gonczol, The Ottawa Citizen
June 1, 2009 12:01 AM
Akwesasne Mohawks were ordered on Sunday to use peaceful means in any confrontations with Canadian border guards, who are expected to start carrying guns today.
Singling out the Mohawk Warriors, the order came out of a meeting Sunday night. Residents debated three strategies to address the arming of the border guards, two of which involved confrontation.
Ultimately, residents directed the Mohawk leadership to use only peaceful means to settle the dispute with the Canada Border Services Agency.
The agency started arming guards in 2007, and officers at the Akwesasne reserve, which straddles the Ontario-Quebec-New York state boundary, are scheduled to begin carrying 9-mm guns today. The Mohawks at the reserve near Cornwall have said they don't want armed guards at the post because it would violate their sovereignty and increase the likelihood of violent confrontations.
This is the first time in this dispute that Akwesasne leaders are directing everyone, including the Mohawk Warriors, to refrain from confrontation, said Brendan White, a spokesman for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
"They (the Mohawk Warriors) are individuals within our community and our community is asking them to not be violent and anything they do is the result of individual actions and does not have the support of the community and our leaders," White said.
"It was an appeal, a request to that group, that they have to keep the community in mind. . We can't fight guns with violence. We can't give them justification to carry firearms. We can't play into their hands," White said.
Mohawk Warriors, who were present at the meeting, made it clear on Saturday that they would storm the border post today and drive the guards off the reserve if the Canadian government did not deliver a signed promise that the guards would not carry guns on the reserve.
Earlier Sunday, members of the Mohawk council were barred from entering the border post near Cornwall as they attempted to verify if there were any guns in the building.
The border crossing was also closed for about an hour around 8 p.m. Sunday, but it was unclear why.
The arming of the guards comes on the same day as border crossers, including Canadian and U.S. citizens, will need to produce a passport or other secure documents approved by the American Homeland Security Department to cross the border.
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