List of native conflicts grows as six protesters arrested at Pembroke
By Brendan Kennedy, The Ottawa Citizen; with files from The Montreal
Gazette, May 22, 2009
The arrest Wednesday of six First Nations protesters near Pembroke
could be a part of what is shaping up to be a summer of discontent
among Ontario natives frustrated over a growing list of outstanding
The protesters, led by Grant Tysick, chief of the Kinounchepirini
Algonquin, were arrested in the early morning after a 34-hour blockade
of a gravel quarry west of Pembroke.
The blockade at Eastway Developments on Henan Road was broken up by
Upper Ottawa Valley OPP officers and members of the OPP's Emergency
Response Team around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The men were arrested without incident and there were no physical
confrontations of any kind, police said.
The Algonquins oppose Eastway's resource extraction without
compensation as well as the company's plans to build a subdivision on
what they consider to be traditional Algonquin land.
Tysick said the community is willing to let both projects go ahead as
long as Eastway consults with the community and agrees to negotiate
with them for a share of the resources and profits.
Eastway Developments president Dan Bedard did not return the Citizen's
phone calls Thursday, but the company's vice-president, Jimmy
Lapointe, told the Pembroke Daily Observer on Tuesday that the
blockade was "a totally illegal act."
Another native protest was expected today at noon by members of the
Beausoleil First Nation in Simcoe County. A press release issued by
the Union of Ontario Indians said natives were planning what was
described as a peaceful protest against a landfill now under
construction near Georgian Bay. The landfill, known as Site 41, is
only eight kilometres from Georgian Bay and adjacent to the Tiny Marsh
On May 9, a protest by hundreds of Mohawks temporarily closed the
Seaway International Bridge at Cornwall. Natives there are upset by
government plans to arm border guards at a customs checkpoint on the
Akwesasne reserve. Mohawks claim arming border guards is a violation
of their sovereignty and endangers the lives of community members who
make frequent crossings to the U.S. section of the reserve.
These grievances join a list of other issues still simmering.
In Ottawa, plans for redevelopment of the former Rockcliffe air base
have been on hold since 2007 due to an extensive land claim by Ontario
Algonquins. Negotiations are ongoing.
Two years ago, near Sharbot Lake, a blockade by two groups of
Algonquins held up exploratory drilling for uranium. A deal was struck
late last year to allow limited drilling by the mining company,
In April and June 2007 in the Bay of Quinte area, Highway 401 and the
CN rail tracks were blockaded by Mohawk protest leader Shaun Brant.
His own Tyendinaga band and national native leaders attempted to
distance themselves from Brant's actions, and he eventually received a
three-month conditional sentence.
In Caledonia, just outside Hamilton, it has been more than three years
since members of the Six Nations blockaded a street for a month to
protest construction of a subdivision. That was followed last year by
a six-day blockade of the Caledonia highway overpass. Last Friday, OPP
charged an Oshweken man with pubic mischief for his part in the
protest, according to media reports in the Hamilton area. Talks in the
land dispute continue.
Meanwhile, in Pembroke, all six protesters who took part in the
blockade of the quarry were charged with mischief for obstructing
lawful use of property. Tysick was the only one held by police and he
was released after agreeing to bail conditions that prohibit his
involvement in any other protests and prevent him from associating
with the other protesters. Tysick is scheduled to appear in court on
Tysick said Thursday he plans to abide by the conditions of his
release, and he's hopeful that another blockade won't be necessary.
Ottawa lawyer Michael Swinwood is representing the protesters.
"The position that we maintain would be that the OPP and the province
of Ontario are outside their jurisdiction," he said. "So they're
essentially the ones that are acting illegally and not the sovereign
Swinwood said he plans to apply for a writ of prohibition on the
charges against the protesters in order to take the jurisdiction
claims to a higher court.
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