Mohawk community ready for major blockades if Harper government doesn’t launch missing women inquiry

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

In a week in which the Harper government unveiled its historic education deal with First Nations, we have a reminder that not all is well between Aboriginals and the Conservatives.

As first reported by APTN News, Shawn Brant, a member the Mohawk Community of Tyendinaga, is threatening "war" against Harper if the Tories don't launch an inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal women.

He made the threat of action in a very thoughtful letter to the prime minister dated February 4th.

"In a report, published in September 2013 by MaryAnne Pearce and recently obtained by the RCMP, some 824 First Nations women have now been identified as having been murdered or gone missing, with a majority of those cases documented as having occurred in the past 15 years.

"Your unwillingness to consider this first step at reconciliation is well documented and understood.

"It is our opinion that all diplomatic means to convince you of the need for an inquiry have failed. Further, the tears and sadness of the families left behind have not moved you to any position of compassion.

"We have therefore resolved that we will take whatever and further actions that are deemed necessary, to compel you to call a National Inquiry into the crisis of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women and Girls."

Brant spoke to Yahoo Canada News on Friday afternoon and said that his community is considering blockades on thoroughfares between Canada's two largest cities — something they've done before.

He suggests that the blockades could start in southern Ontario — with "400 men" — and quickly spread to other parts of the country with the help of 633 Mohawk communities.

[ Related: Do we need a national inquiry into missing or murdered aboriginal women? ]

Ernie Crey, whose missing sister's DNA was found on serial killer Willie Pickton's pig farm in Port Coquitlam, says he disagrees with blockades as a form of protest but understands Brant's motivation.

"I could see something like this occurring following Ottawa's high- handed and dismissive stance where a national inquiry into missing and murdered women is concerned," Crey told Yahoo.

"Shawn's approach is not one I agree with or even endorse, but frustration over this issue has past the boiling point and our communities from Coast to Coast are roiling over this issue."

[ Related: The future of First Nation relations: peace or strife? ]

Last summer, all of Canada's premiers joined the Assembly of First Nations, Amnesty International and all the federal opposition parties asking the Harper government for an inquiry.

For their part, the Tories continue to claim that an inquiry is not needed. In a statement to CBC News in September, Justice Minister Peter Mackay's office said it's not interested in more meetings but is taking action.

"This includes creating a new National Centre for Missing Persons, improving law enforcement databases and developing community safety plans specifically designed for Aboriginal communities," said the statement.

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