October 30th, 2008
Police station delivery thwarted by protesters
Chief Maracle says dissenters' views don't represent entire reserve
A new police station came and went here Wednesday as tensions on this
native reserve continue to rise.
What was to be delivery day for a new Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Police
headquarters was thwarted by about two dozen protesters who refused to
allow the modular building to be delivered to the York Road site.
Chief R. Donald Maracle, however, said the protesters do not represent the
majority opinion of the 2,500 people living on the reserve, nor do they
have their facts straight about the situation.
Maracle said many community members have come to the band office to voice
their opinions about native protest leader Shawn Brant and his followers,
who are believed to be behind the demonstration.
"They don't feel good about being held hostage by protesters," said
Maracle. "And they don't feel as though the community should be controlled
He said band council unanimously decided to move ahead with plans to
install the building, despite the actions of protesters.
"It's not me that's steadfast about the issue, it's council.
It isn't the chief against them, it's council ... the five members of
Wednesday morning, native police shut down York Road between Norways Road
and Sadies Lane, to prevent both the public and media from attending the
site of the new station, which has been occupied by protesters since
According to native sources, trucks carrying five of the nine pieces of
building pulled onto York Road in the early morning hours, but were soon
Initially, the band council and the company behind the structure planned
to deliver all of the pieces Wednesday and have the building erected the
following day using a crane.
However, the presence of about two dozen protesters -- and a lack of
police presence -- prevented any attempt to have the new station put in
There were other reported incidents centring around the issue: a culvert
near the site was set on fire and the windows of a band councillor's
vehicle were smashed out, reportedly in retaliation for supporting the new
Sources also told The Intelligencer native police officers from other
reserves were called in to assist the Tyendinaga First Nations Police
Service with the ordeal, rather than relying on nearby Ontario Provincial
Police detachments for manpower.
Around noon Wednesday, Brant walked from inside the police barricade to
the corner of York Road and Sadies Lane, by Quinte Mohawk School, to speak
He said the protest was based on band council's decision to prioritize
spending on a police station over addressing the lack of safe water on the
reserve, in particular in the nearby school.
Shipped from a Grimsby, Ont. company Wednesday morning, the building cost
$1.9 million, of which $980,000 came from the band. The rest came from the
provincial and federal governments.
"The bitterest pill to swallow in this is that we spent $1 million on a
building and over there at that school the fountains are covered over, the
kids can't drink, they can't wash their hands," Brant said.
Maracle strongly refuted Brant's allegations, however, saying the water
system at the school was only identified as an issue in February.
"The water system at the school was identified as antiquated, an older
system that needed replacement. There were no bad water tests that came
from the school," he said, adding that students were provided bottled
water as a precaution until the new system is put in place.
In fact, Maracle said a consultant was hired months ago to design a new
system for the York Road school.
"And we're just waiting for that design, which should arrive any day now."
Once in hand, Maracle said, a funding application will be forwarded to
"The issue was identified in February and there was immediate action taken
to explain the issue," he said.
Brant, meanwhile, was cautious saying the protest was not a personal
attack on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police service, but more to show band
officials they are not pleased with their priorities.
"Nobody is against our police or against enhancing our police services,"
Brant said. "People have used this building as leverage, saying you can't
have this (better water) when this is occurring right now.
"Every day I ask (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte) Chief R. Donald Maracle
and Chief of Police Ron Maracle do you have a work order to fix this? And
it hasn't happened."
Brant said the most frustrating thing about the water issue is it has been
talked about for five years.
"Five and a half years ago we took a delegation to council and brought our
kids in. One by one, they showed growths on their heads, sores and rashes
on their body. Health Canada convened an emergency assessment clinic to
examine the children. That was five years ago. Since then we've shut down
the train lines three times, the 401, everything has been done. We've
appealed to this country, this government and society and said 'fix this
He also said he was unconcerned about breaking court-ordered conditions of
his recent mischief convictions to be at the protest site. On Sept. 29 he
was issued a 90-day conditional sentence to be served at home for his
actions on last year's Aboriginal Day of Action.
"My parents are over there," he said, referring to the police station
site. "I'm not going to allow the OPP to come in and brutalize my
The protest began at 5 p. m. Monday, when a group of woman walked up to
the entrance of the police station site and lit a fire as police officers
Officers and protesters remained at the site overnight, but the event was
peaceful and no arrests were made Monday night or Tuesday morning, the
police chief said.
Copyright © 2008 Belleville Intelligencer