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Dissident Mohawk chiefs extend blockade of road near Oka., Que

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    ... Subject: Dissident Mohawk chiefs extend blockade of road near Oka., Que. Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 20:48:42 -0500 From: Russell Diabo
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2003
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      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: Dissident Mohawk chiefs extend blockade of road near Oka., Que.
      Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 20:48:42 -0500
      From: "Russell Diabo" <rdiabo@...>
      To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>



      Ticker Canada

      March 31, 2003
      Dissident Mohawk chiefs extend blockade of road near Oka., Que.
      KANESATAKE, Que. (CP) -- Dissident Mohawk chiefs upset over a policing
      deal blocked a major road on Monday near this settlement northwest of
      Montreal.
      The protesters had been blocking only one lane of Highway 344 since
      last Friday, but they extended the blockade later Monday, saying federal
      governments officials refused to speak with them.

      Federal officials later invited six band council members to a meeting
      with federal and Quebec bureaucrats, provided they first dismantle the
      barricades.
      Mathieu Alarie, a spokesman for Quebec Transport Minister Serge Menard,
      said removing the barricades was a condition of the meeting.
      Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault said he disapproved of the
      blockade, without asking that it be dismantled.
      "As I have often said, a government must react like a government," he
      said in Gatineau, Que. "Erecting a barricade to resolve internal
      problems isn't useful."
      The protesters are upset that Grand Chief James Gabriel negotiated a
      policing deal with Ottawa without consulting the band council.
      All traffic was turned back on Monday, other than school buses,
      emergency vehicles and local traffic.
      Two vans, including one sporting a Mohawk flag, were parked across the
      road. A tent was also erected on the site.
      Gabriel warned that Kanesatake police officers were ready to break up
      the blockade, which he called an illegal act.
      "(We'll) put our support behind them (the police) to call in any
      reinforcements that are necessary from other First Nations to support
      the Mohawk police to control the situation," said Gabriel.
      The blockade was put up by a group led by three chiefs -- Steven
      Bonspille, Pearl Bonspille and John Harding. It has been manned around
      the clock by dozens of members of the Mohawk reserve near Oka.
      The policing deal ensures the current Kanesatake police force remains
      in place, staffed by Mohawk, Cree and Mi'kmaq officers.
      But the dissident chiefs are demanding all police officers who patrol
      the reserve be Mohawks, and they want a say in the policing budget.
      They also want to renegotiate a number of other deals, including
      education and social-service agreements.
      "The Canadian government wants confrontation over negotiation," Steven
      Bonspille told reporters at the blockade on Monday.
      "Confrontation is not my style, but when Canada tells us they won't
      speak with the community of Kanesatake, there's nothing left to do."
      Gabriel said he may ask Quebec provincial police to help native
      officers end the blockade.
      "If this continues, John, Pearl and Steve won't be able to control the
      people at the blockade," said Gabriel.
      "At this point, there's always a risk that the situation will degenerate."
      Menard has provided assurances that Quebec has an intervention plan
      should the situation continue for a long time, but he wouldn't make that
      plan public.
      "We will be ready to act even to unforeseen event," he said.
      Solicitor General Wayne Easter said the extension of the police
      contract shouldn't pose a problem since it's the same deal that had
      already been approved by a majority of the band council.
      The blockade is the latest incident in the continuing governance
      problems in the Mohawk community that was at the heart of the 1990 Oka
      standoff.
      In July 1990, a dispute over a golf course on the reserve triggered a
      78-day standoff with armed Mohawk militants.
      One Quebec provincial police officer was killed during the dispute,
      which saw armed Mohawks square off against police and Canadian soldiers.


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