"The end of an activist?" An interview with Shawn Brant

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"The end of an activist?" An interview with Shawn Brant

A surprisingly not-horribly-biased piece about Shawn Brant from the Toronto Sun.


Mohawk activist Shawn Brant, his customary camouflage fatigues replaced by an orange prison jumpsuit, looks weary -- and is weary.

Weary of it all.

"This one, this stint in prison, has been the hardest on me, and the hardest on my family," he admits, speaking over a telephone intercom, and sitting behind protective glass at the provincial superjail here.

Brant has been behind bars since June 10 -- ironically the first anniversary of National Day of Reconciliation for Canada's First Nations, and the federal government's apology for the Indian residential schools -- when approximately 100 OPP and First Nations police stormed in at dawn to end the Mohawk blockage of the Skyway Bridge near Deseronto.

And he will remain in jail until October's end.

"I can't say it is entirely over for me when it comes to my involvement in the cause," says the father of four, the youngest only 18 months old. "All I can say is that I will give the next one, the next protest, a lot of thought.

"I am 45 now. I have been doing this for 19 years.

"Maybe it is time for someone younger to step up."

It was back on July 22 that Justice Stephen Hunter sentenced Shawn Brant to five months in jail on mischief and failure to comply charges for his involvement in two separate road and bridge blockades on Tyendinaga land.

Even the judge was sympathetic to the cause, and didn't impose any restrictions on Brant upon his release.


Shawn Brant is not new to Judge Hunter who, in the course of his many years on the bench in the Belleville area, has sent Brant off to jail on so many occasions that Brant cannot recall any time in almost two decades that he has not been in jail, on probation, or under strict bail conditions.

Judge Hunter, however, is also so aware of the frustrations of the residents of Tyendinaga -- unsafe drinking water, inadequate housing, etc. -- that he admitted in court that Brant's sentencing on this occasion was personally "difficult" for him to hand down, and even urged the various levels of government to better address the issues on Tyendinaga land.

"You are an articulate representative of what those frustrations are," Hunter told Brant. "But you understand I am required to ensure the laws of this country are respected."

Green Grouch

I had the privilege of meeting Shawn a couple of times. It's no wonder he's exhausted. He has carried so much for so long, often in the face of violence from White "communities" and cops, and slander from some in the Mohawk community who think he's a thug and seem to feel well served by peddling that point of view to White people who want to hear it. He's principled, thoughtful, and strong, as is Sue. But strong can only carry you so far. I admit to wishing I knew how to better support him.


Brant has done more than his share and paid the price for that too. I'll never forget his important occupation of AFN Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi's office during the 1995 Gustafsen Lake siege to highlight Mercredi's collaborationist role. So no surprise "some in the Mohawk community think he's a thug" as Indigenous patriots like Brant threaten the whole structure of Indian Industry elite entrenchment in Canada. Hope he keeps at it but with much more support to help move it all forward.

Tyendinaga Support Committee


Sovereignty is the answer. Canada is the problem. End the Occupation!


Charter Rights

Shawn Brant is a good friend of mine.

He isn't done. When he gets out he will be switching to a different method. The cause however, is still the same.....

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Perhaps someone has mentioned this, but I can't help but think that the only reason such a "sympathetic" article was published is that its underlying message is one of "ending" activism. Activists should be honoured not lamented over.