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Mohawk protesters from the Bay of Quinte Mohawks stands on an overpass over  traffic-empty Highway 401. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press) Mohawk protesters from the Bay of Quinte Mohawks stands on an overpass over traffic-empty Highway 401. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

In Depth

Aboriginal Canadians

Voices of action

A sample of opinions on the aboriginal day of action

Last Updated June 29, 2007

"Canadians are fair-minded people. They know the situation as we've described in our communities is simply unacceptable."

– Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Association of First Nations

"We don't want to cause a major disruption in the lives of Canadians. We don't want to disrupt the Canadian economy."

– Phil Fontaine

"We feel it's only been through these type of actions that First Nations issues have been made a priority for Canadians and have elevated it in priorities for this government. We'll continue to push this button as long as we have outstanding issues and we'll continue to do it until there's some results."

– Activist Shawn Brant, of the Bay of Quinte Mohawks, at a barricade set up west of Kingston, Ont.

"We've been able to demonstrate the courage, commitment and resolve of our community members. We don't want people to see this a stepping back: we don't feel that it is."

– Shawn Brant, on the opening of Highway 401

"There's about $118 million a day in freight that passes down this train line and there's a great deal of commerce that travels down the 401 so I guess if we're evaluating on a monetary sense … certainly we've been successful in our campaign."

– Shawn Brant, on his group's barricades on Highway 2 and a CN rail line west of Kingston, Ont.

"This is the first time ever we've shut down the 401, and I don't believe it's going to be the last. It was certainly a good test run for us."

– Shawn Brant

"OPP recognizes the impact these events may have on individual travel plans. We take all disruptions seriously and will use a measured response that must take into consideration the safety of the public, the demonstrators and the police."

– Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino

"Native leaders, including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine and local chiefs in every province, must try to rein in militants who want to convey their discontent on the barricades, rather than through peaceful and lawful demonstrations."

– Toronto Star editorial

"It's unfortunate we have to see the protests today and see small pockets of people disrupt the lives of Canadians on this long weekend. It does shed a negative light on aboriginal peoples and we're just here to say that's not the voice of all the aboriginal population in Canada."

– Chief Patrick Brazeau, head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

"In terms of Mr. Brant, we don't know who he represents. He's not an elected leader. As far as we're concerned, this individual does not represent the majority of the people that he claims to speak on behalf of."

– Chief Patrick Brazeau

"We don't think that we need to be standing on the highway to get our message across."

– Rick Simon, Atlantic chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

"We try to be very proactive in terms of trying to get our agenda moving forward, and we can understand the frustration amongst First Nations that have led up to the day of protest."

– Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, announcing that the group would not participate in the day of action

"I wouldn't really say direct action is always an ugly thing. Sometimes it needs to happen so people will hear, so people will notice. All I know is that myself and the group that I am working with, we've planned a peaceful protest."

– Marilyn Jensen of the Carcross Tagish First Nation in the Yukon

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