Members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory (located near Belleville in southeastern Ontario) appear to be in the vanguard in taking direct action to try and secure a national inquiry into Canada’s hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Well-known Tyendinaga activist Shawn Brant wrote to Prime Minister Harper in February warning of such action if no inquiry was announced by March. Harper remains unmoved by such warnings and by the years of demands for an inquiry by the Assembly of First Nations, Native Women's Association of Canada, and numerous human rights and women’s rights groups. So it was not surprising that no announcement of an inquiry was forthcoming.
To add insult to injury, a Parliamentary report, by the Special Committee on Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, was released on March 7 and did not recommend an inquiry, thus minimizing the seriousness of the crisis represented by the large number of missing and murdered indigenous women.
On March 8, as part of International Women’s Day, Tyendinaga warriors blocked the CN rail line in their territory, affecting traffic between Toronto and Ottawa/Montreal.
During the blockade, three activists were arrested and now face charges ranging from mischief to assault to possession of weapons. Following the blockade another activist was arrested for mischief. While most have been released on bail, one refuses to sign on to the restrictive bail conditions, which would ban him from the community, keeping him away from work and family.
Remaining confident, on March 19, women from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory declared a day of action to support the call for an inquiry. They took to a small rural road near the rail lines, and were joined by dozens of people from Tyendinaga and surrounding communities. These activists reject the cautious approach of their Chief and Council, who issued a statement that noted, “The Tyendinaga Mohawk Council are not involved in any of the blockade events that are happening today (March 19)…We support the need for a commission of inquiry into this issue (of missing and murdered women) but we do not support the blockade.”
There is an urgent need for funds to pay legal fees for bail reviews and appeals regarding the arrests on March 8, and to support the affected families.
Please make your cheque out to “Solidarité sans frontières” and write “Tyendinaga Support” in the memo line. Mail or drop off cheque at: Solidarité sans frontières / Tyendinaga Support 1500 de Maisonneuve West, #204 Montréal, QC H3G 1N1
By paypal: Visit www.solidarityacrossborders.org/en/donate (*please write a note to specify that it is for Tyendinaga)