From the Belleville Intelligencer:
Protesters set up roadblock in anticipation of new police building
Building was to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday
Posted By By Stephen Petrick
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY — A group of native demonstrators set up a roadblock here Tuesday to prevent the arrival of a controversial police station believed to be on its way.
But the status of the building, already put together by a Grimsby, Ont. modular building company, was unclear Tuesday night, as Mohawk officials released no details on the plan.
“I couldn’t tell you what the administrative arrangements are,” Mohawk Chief R. Donald Maracle said from his home Tuesday evening. “It could come tonight. It could come tomorrow, I don’t know.”
Ron Maracle, Chief of Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Services, declined an interview when approached at the York Road site where the building was to be erected. He also wouldn’t say when the building was to arrive.
“I can’t divulge that information. It’s a public safety issue,” he said.
But a group of demonstrators believed the building was scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m. Tuesday. At that time, a number of cars descended on the site, just west of Quinte Mohawk School.
About a dozen young woman got out and gathered at the entrance, as officers from the Mohawk police force videotaped them.
The group lit a fire and stayed as the sun went down. It was a peaceful protest and no arrests were made.
None of the woman who gathered at the entrance would speak to The Intelligencer.
Some protesters were stationed at the entrance to a quarry on Clarence Road and Highway 2 before heading out to the police station site.
While there, Tyendinaga activist Dan Doreen said the group was opposing band council’s decision to prioritize a police station when there are a myriad of other issue plaguing the First Nations community.
Doreen said the demonstrations he and others have been taking part in over the past few years were to address the need to settle land claims and improve access to safe drinking water.
And “the first time the government opens their wallet is to hand us a cop shop. What does that say to our youth? They go to council and ask for a youth centre and what do they get? A young offenders cell.”
The group was calling on the band to ban blasting practices at the quarry because they believe it is leading to contaminated wells. That’s a serious issue, they said, because most residents in the territory rely on wells for drinking water.
“If you go into our public school they have bags over the fountains,” Doreen said. “It’s a mechanical fix and they bring in a f—ing police station.”
The police station, intended to allow Tyendinaga Mohawk Police services to expand from eight to 11 officers, has been contested for months.
The $1.9-million project is being funded with $980,000 of band money, with the rest coming from the federal and provincial governments.
It was originally scheduled for arrival last month, but a similar protest took place Sept. 23, forcing the band council to store it with the manufacturer.
But the chief said band council is still adamant about having it arrive soon, pointing out that delay in installation has already cost the band an extra $21,000 in storage, loading and transportation fees.
“I don’t want to predict what will happen,” he said. “Maybe the people are conducting a peaceful protest and will voice their opposition to it. But the council has thought about all the ramifications involved with it.”
While he said he disagrees with protesters’ charges that band council didn’t sufficiently consult the community, he acknowledged the band does need to address the drinking water issue.
He said at a briefing Tuesday, council discussed studying the impact that blasting has on well water.
“Council is waiting for information on what is required in an environmental assessment for a quarry operation,” he said.
The following information was sent out on the internet yesterday by members of the Tyendinaga community:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28th, 2008
Press Release from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
TYENDINAGA MOHAWKS BRACE FOR ARRIVAL OF POLICE STATION:
Police Chief Prepared to Use Force
(October 28, 2008) Tensions are running high today on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory today as residents anticipate the arrival of a highly controversial second police station. Some reports suggest the building could arrive as early as this afternoon. Police Chief Ron Maracle has warned that he is prepared to use force to bring the building into the community.
Residents have expressed concern over Council’s apparent prioritizing of a second police station for the small community over issues such as unsafe drinking water throughout community homes and at the reserve school, where the water was declared unfit for human consumption some 19 months ago.
The matter of the police building had previously come to the forefront when, in the lead-up to its arrival, an agreement was reached on the implementation of a community consultation process. Council subsequently rescinded the motion calling for such a process and now says the building will go forward without community consultation.
What You Can Do:
The community has asked that outside supporters contact the Band Council and respectfully express your concerns that community consultation take place, before the police station is brought to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, against the wishes of community meetings and discussions that have taken place so far.
Suggested Phone Call Script:
I am calling to express my concern at the impending arrival of a new police station in Tyendinaga.
We recognize that this initiative is partially funded by Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety, headed by Stockwell Day. However, we have been informed by community members that there is a great deal of community concern over the lack of consultation by Band Council. Please take the time to consult.
Please hold off on the immediate implementation of a $2 million police station, while the community’s concerns about clean drinking water and the Culbertson Tract Land Claim remain unresolved. We are asking that you take the time to consult properly.
Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Band Council Office
A month ago, on September 24th, 2008, a new police building was put on hold after community members blockaded the intended site of the building. The building is a 4,635-square-foot building shipped from a Hamilton-area manufacturer and intended to be placed on York Road, just west of Quinte Mohawk School.
The Band Council in Tyendinaga put up half the money ($1 million), while the Ministry of Public Safety and Security put up the other half of the funding.
The band council made plans for this roughly $1.9-million facility, even though 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 to the Intelligencer, pointing to Quinte Mohawk School. “There are housing issues and mold issues.”
“Our people never sanctified it, ratified it or condoned it,” Bryan Isaacs told The Intelligencer from just outside the site last month.
“There’s no one in favour in our group because we were never consulted.”