Ottawa

First Nation against armed border guards

Mohawk leaders say they will oppose the federal government's plan to begin arming border guards next month, if guards at Ontario's Cornwall Island crossing begin carrying weapons.

Mohawk leaders say they will oppose the federal government's plan to begin arming border guards next month, if guards at Ontario's Cornwall Island crossing begin carrying weapons.

The leaders said that they want an exception made in the plan for that border crossing because it's located on Mohawk land.

The presence of armed guards, they said, would violate Mohawk sovereignty and pose a danger to the people who live and work near the border posts.

United States border guards have long carried guns, said Mohawk Chief Howard Thompson, but the post on the American side of the St. Lawrence River is a different story.

"That's not on our territory, where the Canadian one is right in the community," said Thompson.

"It's not like it's off the reservation so that kind of scares people. Any situation that happens, even a stray bullet, could run into the community members that live close by."

The border guards at the Cornwall crossing share their offices with Mohawk police who are armed and, at the moment, mandated to protect the border guards who work there.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has passed its own law banning border guards from carrying guns onto Mohawk territory — a ban they could call on the Mohawk police to enforce.

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