Akwesasne Mohawk Territory Border Crossing

    LONDON, ON, June 5 /CNW/ - The Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois
and Allied Indians (AIAI) has spoken out in support of the people of the
Akwesasne Mohawk Territory with their concerns about having armed Canadian
border guards.
    On June 1st, the Canadian government has developed a new policy that
allows all border crossing guards to be armed. Despite the numerous attempts
to discuss the issue with the Akwesasne government, the Federal Government has
taken a hard line approach to implement this new policy.
    Grand Chief Randall Phillips stated, "this situation could have been
totally avoided if the Federal Government had discussed this issue and the
alternatives put forward by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. Instead the
Federal Government chooses to enforce policy as if in fact it's law, when it
is not. Policy can be changed tomorrow if there exists the will to do so."
    In fact, even the border guards themselves have concern about the
potential for safety concerns which lead to the Canada Border Services Agency
to shut down the border. The border crossing has been shut down and will
remain closed until, as Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan states, "until
the people of Akwesasne accept armed border guards."
    The Grand Chief responded by stating, "The people of Akwesasne did not
initiate this closure nor the armed presence, and they will have our full
support as an Association to ensure that this gets resolved in a timely and
peaceful manner. Unless the Federal Government changes its position, that
crossing could be closed for awhile. The Canadian public must understand that
this is not a terrorism issue, it is a matter of the Rights of the People of
Akwesasne to have a voice on their land."

    The Akwesasne Mohawk Territory straddles the St. Lawrence River near
Cornwall, Ontario. The unique placement of this land requires the people of
Akwesasne to deal with Canadian Federal and Provincial jurisdictions (Ontario
and Quebec) as well as United States Federal and State authorities.

For further information:

For further information: Grand Chief Randall Phillips, Association of
Iroquois and Allied Indians, (519) 434-2761, rphillips@aiai.on.ca

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