Mohawk protesters block eastern Ont. bridge
Native protesters are blocking a bridge in eastern Ontario to support an aboriginal demonstration near Cornwall, Ont. that is keeping the Canada-U.S. border crossing in that area closed.
Mohawk demonstrators in Tyendinaga, located near Belleville, Ont., say they plan to continue blocking the Skyway Bridge, which links Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory to Prince Edward County, until the federal government takes steps to end a dispute over armed border guards near Cornwall.
Protesters in Tyendinaga say they won't lift the road block until the government agrees to discuss arming border guards at Cornwall Island with the aboriginal community that lives there. However, Mohawk leaders in Tyendinaga say they don't support the blockade.
The Tyendinaga Mohawk Police are currently monitoring the situation, which comes one week after the federal government closed the Cornwall Island border crossing in advance of planned protests from members of the Akwesasne Mohawk First Nation.
The Canada Border Services Agency was supposed to start arming border guards at Cornwall Island with handguns on June 1; instead, the border linking Ontario to Massena, N.Y. was closed.
The issue has been an ongoing dispute between the federal government and Mohawks, who have staged several protests over guns at the border, which is located on Akwesasne territory.
The Cornwall Island border crossing remains closed. However, the Seaway International Bridge linking the mainland to Cornwall Island is open to local traffic and companies that have dealings with Akwesasne residents.
Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said the government is now considering moving the border crossing from aboriginal territory.
"What we're looking at is a potential long closing, and as a result we are right now examining the long-term viability of that particular port of entry," Van Loan told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.
"We're exploring all options, and that includes moving it."
Van Loan said guns at the border are a safety issue and they're necessary to protect the safety of border officers, as well as the public.
However, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne says it was never consulted about arming border guards, even though the border crossing is located on their territory.
Travellers who intended to use the Cornwall Island border crossing are being asked to use the crossing at Dundee, Que., located 45 minutes east of Cornwall; or the crossing at Prescott, Ont., about 45 minutes west of Cornwall.
Motorists travelling through the Tyendinaga area are being asked to take Highway 33 through Adolphustown or Highway 62 through Belleville, Ont. to get to their destinations.