SIX NATIONS – Tyendinaga Mohawk activist Shawn Brant was at Six Nations Polytechnic Saturday afternoon as part of a Two Tow Times sponsored talk on Harper government’s bill C-10.
While Brant agreed that bill C-10 is worthy of being stopped, he linked the to the 824 unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada, demanding a national inquiry into the matter be ordered by Harper’s government by the end of February.
Brant has given written warning to Harper that unless he does something significant on this issue, there would be direct action against the government.
Brant is not one to make empty threats. He is well known as an activist not afraid to do whatever he sees necessary to protect his people.
Ironically he was speaking at the same venue he was denied in 2008 when, then OPP Commissioner, Julian Fantino warned the Polytechnic that if they hosted Shawn Brant, the school’s funding would be in jeopardy. As a result the meeting was shifted to a local restaurant instead.
Brant told the packed house at Polytechnic why Fantino was so adamant to keep Brant out of Six Nations during the tension of the Caledonia conflict at that time.
“At that time I had been convicted of a violent assault and I did time for it,” he unapologeticly admitted. “But what they didn’t understand was why.”
He went on to explain his actions and what led up to the assault charges.
“I was driving out of Deseronto,” he said. “We were engaged in a land dispute, and a couple of guys had gotten out of a car and a grandmother and her grand daughter were beside the road. These guys got out, one with a baseball bat and one with an axe handle and they were going to beat that woman and her grand daughter in broad daylight. As my car was coming, they were screaming. I could have made the decision to drive by or I could have called 911.
“But I stopped my car and I fixed that problem. Four and a half months later, when I got out of jail, that girl and her grand mother were waiting for me and they walked up and gave me a hug.”
The purpose of telling the story was to underline his resolve and that of the people of Tyendinaga to force Harper’s hand and call for an inquiry.
“We can’t see Bill C-10 as one isolated issue,” he said. “This is just another step in a campaign by this government to not just see us roll back our economic prosperity but to push us to the point where we no longer exist as communities, or societies where Nations of people will cease to exist.
“When we talk about the compassion of the people that exist outside our territories or by the government itself, I can tell you today that there are 824 dead Indian women across this country over the past few years who have been murdered, raped, tortured, who have turned up in dumpsters.”
He went on to talk about two very recent cases, one in Alberta where the remains of a Native woman were being excavated from a dump near Calgary, and the second, about a Nova Scotia woman, ironically, writing her university thesis on the missing and murdered Indigenous women, who has been missing since February 13th (see story below).
“Their government calls itself a ‘law and order government’, but it denies justice to the families of missing women and seeks to prosecute us and impose mandatory minimums on our tobacco economy and the men and women within our communities that only seek to support our communities and our Nations, and our families.”
While acknowledging the other issues facing First Nations including Bill C-10, he referred to his community’s resolution to stand on the issue of missing and murdered woman first as, “an issue that is the most righteous and just that we can bring forward,” to the applause of the large and diverse crowd.
“I know that every brother in this room would stand for 824 dead mothers and daughters who deserve justice. I know that. And I know the government knows that.”
In closing, he was stone-faced about what actions could take place should his warning to Harper be ignored.
“Back in 2008, when some good ol’ boys tried to tune up our women, I had the decision of whether to stay in my car and drive by,” he concluded. “I had the decision to be involved or not, and I didn’t drive by. And we are not going to drive by on this one either.”