Monday, April 23, 2007


A key organizer of an aboriginal blockade, which paralyzed passenger and freight rail traffic on the busy Toronto-Montreal corridor, is warning that the protest that ended early Saturday is just the beginning in a series of "escalating" actions.

Shawn Brant, a blockade leader, said that other economic targets were being eyed by those protesting land issues in the Bay of Quinte region. "We wanted to show [the government] that we were serious and we don't feel they should be questioning our resolve in dealing with this matter because we will act on the next target," he said yesterday.

"We've identified targets as part of this campaign, one being the railway, one being provincial highways and one being the town [of Deseronto] itself," Brant told the Globe and Mail.

"The disruption on the CN line was a first in a series of economic disruptions, the first in a campaign." he said. "The campaign calls for an ever-escalating degree."

The quarry takeover and the rail blockade were instigated because of slow moving land claim negotiations with the federal government.

The Mohawks peacefully removed their railway blockade ahead of schedule on Saturday morning, ending a standoff with police and freeing up trains.

The quarry, which was the source of gravel for a condominium project in Deseronto by a Kingston developer, is part of a 950-acre Culbertson land tract the Mohawks say was illegally taken from them in 1832.

Brant said the quarry takeover and rail barricade were aimed at speeding up negotiations. Brant and about two dozen followers staged Friday's blockade without the approval of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief Don Maracle or the band council

Supporters are also taking aim at the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in Toronto.

In fact a call has gone out to support the claims of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte entitled, "DEMAND THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO REVOKE QUARRY LICENSE" which says:

Gather at:

LOCATION: Ministry of Natural Resources
Whitney Block (at the corner of Queen’s Park Circle and Wellesley, in front of two large canons)

DATE: Monday, April 23

TIME: 11 am

Join us as we tell the Ontario government to uphold its duties to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) and to the environment. Join us as we deliver direct evidence of illegal dumping and a message sent by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to the steps of the Ministry of Natural Resources. It is time the MNR and the Province of Ontario stepped up and took responsibility for their part in the destruction and theft of indigenous land.

One month ago, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reclaimed a portion of the Culbertson Tract – 925 acres of land taken from their community, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, in 1832.

The land reclaimed by the Mohawk community pointedly includes a gravel quarry. Beyond the obvious direct thieving of stolen land which quarry operations so blatantly embody – more than 100,000 tonnes of land are trucked out every year, to benefit settler Canadian business interests - it has since been discovered that the crimes against the Mohawk Territory are greater than first imagined.

Thurlow Aggregates, the quarry operators, were also carrying out illegal dumping of waste on this site. Building materials, batteries and highway asphalt have been uncovered. The operators went so far as to try and bury the evidence of this scandalous activity, when they became aware of the Mohawk’s intended reclamation of the land.

While this information was made public several weeks ago, the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) – responsible both for the licensing and environmental standards of quarry operations in this province - has refused to inspect it.

Since day one of the quarry takeover, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have demanded that the quarry license be revoked. Not only has the MNR refused to comply, but the MNR District Manager came to the Territory, only to refuse to see the evidence of the dumping and environmental destruction at the quarry.

The MNR refuses to act despite Federal government recognition of the validity of the Mohawk’s claim to the land. The Province of Ontario has failed in every way – no proper monitoring of the quarry, no revocation of the license to ensure its rightful owners can clean up the mess that has been made and put the land to healthy use, complete risk of the local environment and local water supply. Before the quarry was reclaimed, the MNR sat back and collected fees from the operation of removing stolen land from the Culbertson Tract.

Join us on Monday, as we demand the Province of Ontario own up to its inaction and answer for its role in the devastation and pilfering of indigenous land.

This demonstration is organized by a coalition including No One Is Illegal-Toronto, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, and members of the Coalition In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty.

The following comes from CJOB (Winnipeg, Canada).

Aboriginals who blocked rail line take protest outside Toronto MNR building

An aboriginal group that caused major disruptions by blocking rail traffic in eastern Ontario is taking its protest to the offices of the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources in Toronto.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte say the province hasn't upheld its commitments to aboriginals, or the environment, and must acknowledge evidence of illegal dumping on their land.

On Friday, demonstrators parked a school bus across a rail crossing - a move which shut down all freight and passenger service from Toronto eastward to Ottawa and Montreal until Saturday.

A month ago, the same group erected barricades outside a gravel quarry near Deseronto, Ont., on land which they say is rightfully theirs. They say a company has been allowed to profit from their land and has been dumping illegally on the site.

The group says the government hasn't investigated their claims and won't revoke the company's licence to collect materials from their land.

The rail blockade, which lasted about 30 hours, was held on the one-year anniversary of a provincial police raid against an aboriginal occupation in Caledonia, Ont.

Aboriginal groups had warned that a lack of political will to settle that claim had protesters considering further standoffs in Ontario.

The Mohawks are also upset with a developer's plan to build condominiums on land called the Culbertson Land Tract, which they say is theirs.

The quarry, which is operated by Thurlow Aggregates and sits on the disputed land, was targeted by one-day blockades last November and in early January.

The federal government has appointed a land-claims negotiator to try to resolve the dispute, but Mohawk protest leader Shawn Brant has said the talks are moving too slowly.

Don Maracle, chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawks, has said he sympathized with Brant's group but added the Mohawk council did not sanction the quarry blockade.

The tract is part of land granted to the Mohawks in 1793, but the Mohawks say it was illegally taken from them in 1832.

A land claim was filed for the property in 1995 and accepted as valid in 2003.

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