September 24, 2008
New Mohawk police building put on hold after protesters set up blockade
By Stephen Petrick
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY — The installation of a new police building here has been delayed “until further notice,” after a group of band members set up a blockade Tuesday to protest its arrival.
Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte officials were preparing to have a 4,635-square-foot building shipped from a Hamilton-area manufacturer this week and put together on a gravel pit on York Road, just west of Quinte Mohawk School.
But a group of about 50 people began squatting at the site Tuesday afternoon, vowing to block officials from entering to install a building they feel the community was not consulted about.
“Our people never sanctified it, ratified it or condoned it,” Bryan Isaacs told The Intelligencer from just outside the protest site. “There’s no one in favour in our group because we were never consulted.”
Inside the site, several women were sitting in lawn chairs. They said they were upset the band council made plans for a roughly $1.9-million facility when the money could have been spent to address the lack of safe water in the territory and poor housing conditions.
“You have kids in the school out there without water,” said Evelyn Turcotte, pointing to Quinte Mohawk School. “There are housing issues and mold issues.”
Another woman, who did not give her name, said, “I’ve been buying water for 30 years.”
The group, which identified themselves as the Kanyen’kehaka women of Tyendinaga, also issued a press release calling on Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp as well as Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to listen to their needs.
“Canadians overwhelmingly support clean water efforts, funding for education and safe housing for Native people, and yet, while all of those concerns remain ignored, this multi-million dollar investment proves only to ‘fix’ an otherwise unwarranted problem.”
The comments came as the Mohawk band council gathered for a special meeting to discuss what to do with the facility.
The building has already been put together by NRB, a modular building company in Grimsby, Ont.