The Tyendinaga Support Committee is a group in Toronto working to gather support for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory) in their struggles for land and justice and against criminal prosecution. To get involved, to lend your support, or if you have any questions, please email: support.tmt (at) gmail.com
Donations can be sent to:
Tyendinaga Legal Defence Fund
c/o 10 Britain Street
*Funds raised will be split between legal costs, and maintaining the Quarry in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.*
The next meeting of the Tyendinaga Support Committee is
February 20, 2010
CN construction destructive, land claim unresolved:
Tyendinaga Mohawks targeted
Tyendinaga Mohawks are reviewing their options after federal officials ordered the Ontario Provincial Police to move against organizers of the 3 year old occupation of Culbertson Tract Lands.
Last week, in an unprecedented move, the OPP laid charges against 3 individuals for the "unlawful use of land" after a trailer was moved onto lands adjacent to the quarry. It was stated by police, at that time, that the "indians do not have the right to be on the land because the government (federal) has told them that the land will never be returned."
The government's use of police in enforcing its land claim position comes on the heels of the Mohawk community stopping the construction of a $700 million CN thirdline project running between Ottawa and Toronto. On January 25th, the project was brought to a halt after it was revealed that CN Rail had intentionally disregarded the construction guidelines and environmental recommendations put in place by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) pertaining to the protection of water tributaries serving the First Nations community.
A report issued by the Department, dated February 8, 2010, identifies CN's construction deficiencies and characterizes their work as destructive to wildlife and fish habitat. It goes on to say that the failure of CN to comply with environmental recommendations have resulted in "spoil piles" or unearthed contaminates to directly enter the watershed after heavy rains and ice flows compromised the worksite in late January. The report goes on to state, "Based on DFO's observations during the site visit we also identified construction activities which could negatively impact fish and fish habitat. These included spoil piles and the construction staging area within the floodplain. This is not acceptable to DFO and is contrary to advice provided by our department."
At a community meeting held on February 11th, 2010, CN officials were put on the defensive over their handling of the situation. Frustration turned to anger when CN front people, seemingly oblivious to Tyendinagas drinking water crisis, offered employment opportunities instead of answers. One by one, community members rose and chastised CN for its disregard of the environment and the ease with which it is prepared to add to the burdens already faced by the Mohawk community.
One member spoke to a thunderous applause, "We are facing the imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), we have unresolved land issues and members being arrested for being on the land, we have a federal government willing to contribute 400 million dollars to improve CN's bottom line, while refusing to pay 12 million to provide clean water to our children. I say no to CNs third line expansion project until we get results on the issues that are important to us."
As the meeting came to a close, it was put forward by Chief and Council that an independent biologist be hired to oversee the remediation of the CN work site in an effort to mitigate the harm and limit future impact.
The three men responsible for bringing environmental concerns forward against CN could not be charged because they prevented the company from continuing in activities that were in contravention of federal law.
They were, however, the only three men charged for the "unlawful use of land" relating to the Culbertson tract, and coincidentally, given conditions "Not to attend on any property owned by the Canadian National Railway except for the purposes of passing over the rail lines by road or highway."
According to Shawn Brant, one of the three men charged, "The most pressing issue facing our communities is the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). It is an attack on our very right to exist, and failing to stop its implementation will certainly result in reduced incomes for our people, greater poverty, and a heightened justification for provincial agencies to remove children from our homes. CN should be a player in that struggle."
- Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
February 20th, 2010