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With his CBSA helmet and raingear, honorary firekeeper "Harry" watches over the Akwesasne People's Fire on Kahwenoke ('Cornwall Island'). The fire has been burning at the main crossroads since May 1, 2009 and now, nearly six months later, a building constructed by community members so that elders and others may stay warm over the winter is nearly complete.
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) building, abandoned since June 1st, looms in the background. CBSA abandoned the post within the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve when residents announced their rejection of the Canadian government's plan to arm the CBSA agents on June 1st. Police shut down the international Seaway bridges and border crossing just minutes before midnight June 1st, as hundreds of Mohawk residents gathered to protest the imminent arming of CBSA agents within their territory.
The bridge and border crossing were re-opened in mid-July, when CBSA set up a makeshift post at the foot of the bridge over in the city of Cornwall, Ontario. After decades of racial profiling and harassment, Akwesasne residents have now been facing heavy fines and vehicle seizures by CBSA if after crossing into New York they do not immediately drive straight through the island and get in the often lengthy one lane line-up on the bridge to report to CBSA. Island residents are also obligated to wait in the line and go through Canadian customs even when only traveling from Kahwenoke into Cornwall for groceries, appointments, or to pick up their children from high school.
Kahwenoke, Akwesasne, Sovereign Mohawk Territory
June 15, 2009.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AKWESASNE COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS DENOUNCING CBSA AND POLICE HARASSMENT AND RACIAL PROFILING ARRESTED IN CORNWALL ON NATIONAL RECONCILIATION DAY
Bail hearing for Dwayne David set for 9:30am Monday, June 15th at 29 Second Street West, Cornwall, Ontario
On June 11th, dubbed "National Reconciliation Day" to conmemorate the one-year anniversary of the Government of Canada's official apology to First Nations for the residential school system, Akwesasne community residents Khristy Sawatis and Dwayne David were arrested by Cornwall police.
Dwayne David remains in police custody until his bail hearing, which has been set for 9:30am on Monday, June 15th, at the Ontario Court of Justice, located at 29 Second Street West in Cornwall, Ontario. Akwesasne residents, outside supporters, and media will all be present.
Only a few nights prior to his arrest, around the sacred fire at the main crossroads on Kahwenoke ("Cornwall Island") across the International Road from the now-abandoned Canadian Customs and Immigration building, David commented on the reaction to the apology of many traditional Akwesasne community members, many of whom are residential school survivors themselves: "The real people cried, because it wasn't real. It was a show."
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.