*Support Shawn Brant and the Mohawks of Tyendinaga*
Tyendinaga is a Mohawk community located on the shore of the Bay of Quinte between Toronto and Montreal, in eastern Ontario. The Mohawk Nation is one of the five original nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.
As part of long-standing struggles for land and self-determination – including unresolved land claims, poverty, suicides and polluted water -- members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk community have organized to defend their territory. In particular, several actions, including blockades, have taken place to expedite the slow negotiation process over the Culbertson Tract, a piece of land the government has long acknowledged was taken illegally from the Mohawks. A quarry on the land was reclaimed in March 2007, and Mohawks have maintained a fulltime presence on-site ever since.
Because of his role as an outspoken spokesperson for the community, Shawn Brant has been repeatedly targeted for arrest and incarceration. Shawn's trial for his role in blockades of highways and railways running through the Tyendinaga territory will begin in January 2009; the Crown prosecutor is asking for 12 year prison sentence.
The attack on Shawn Brant is no less than an attack on all Indigenous peoples who stand up to defend their land and community. Other members of the Tyendinaga community have also been charged with serious offences, and forbidden from participating in protests. Instead of acknowledging the just claims of the Tyendinaga Mohawks, the government and police are criminalizing the community.
We must not let the state succeed with their attacks on Shawn Brant and the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. As non-native allies, living in settler communities on or near Mohawk lands, we need to stand up in support of Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. Read more below about "How you can help?"
--- CN: Drop your racist lawsuit! ---
While various Mohawk activists are facing criminal charges, some are also facing civil lawsuits by CN Rail, a multi-billion dollar company with installations and tracks from ocean-to-ocean. CN's corporate headquarters are in Montreal (935 de La Gauchetière Street West, right beside the main Central Train Station). CN's rails through the territory of Tyendinaga were blocked in April 2006, and again in June 2007.
In a legal maneuver that can only be described as colonial, CN is currently suing three activists from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory – Shawn Brant, Jason Maracle and Tara Green -- for over $100 million. CN's lawsuit is that much more offensive when you consider that CN tracks cross native territories all over "Canada." Their lawsuit is about intimidating and marginalizing effective indigenous organizers, who are active in the legitimate defense of their land and livelihood.
While CN uses the courts to attack native activists, the company's CEO -- E. Hunter Harrison -- is a member of the North American Competitiveness Council, a key promoter of the recently formed "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP) between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The SPP continues the imposition of the pro-corporate North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), combined with paranoid "Homeland Security" policies.
When travelers consider the "inconvenience" of delayed trains, or blocked highways and bridges, contrast that temporary inconvenience with the permanent and deeply entrenched theft of land from native communities, and the adverse social conditions that hundreds of years of genocide have produced.
As part of the campaign of support for the Mohawks of Tyendinaga, Montreal-area organizers are also organizing a campaign to target CN Rail for their colonial and racist role in attacking the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. They are demanding that CN drop their racist lawsuit.
---- How you can help? ----
* The Montreal Tyendinaga Support Committee is actively raising money for the Tyendinaga Legal Defence Fund, which divides funds raised between the legal costs of Shawn's trial, and maintaining the quarry reclamation site. Get in touch to contribute, or if you're organizing your own fundraising events. Check out their website for more info about the $5 x 1000 Montreal Fundraising Campaign.
* The Montreal Tyendinaga Support Committee is also continuing their campaign against CN Rail, whose corporate headquarters are in Montreal. If you can help with popular education and action efforts in the coming months, please get in touch. More info about the CN campaign is also on their website below.
* More generally, get in touch so that you can receive more info about upcoming events and actions, as well as updates.
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