As of Sunday, roughly 70 members and supporters of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga erected a blockade on Shannonville Road, pushing for the Canadian government to host a genuine inquiry into the disappearances and deaths of Indigenous women across Canada -- thus stating their dissatisfaction of the Oppal Inquiry.
As of reports from Sunday night, "two large fires are going across the street and vehicles are parked, blocking Shannonville Road."
The federal government has already insisted that it is willing to commit $25 million to the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains. While this is a start, the mandate is not specific to why First Nations women are at a higher risk of violence due to historical and socio-economic factors.
This blockade should not be a surprise to anyone, since Tyendinaga Mohawk resident Shawn Brant had already warned the federal government -- and especially Stephen Harper -- that the government had until the end of February 2014 to start a campaign of direct action if an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women was not called.
In his challenge, formed in a letter to government, he states:
"I am writing in regards to a mandate issued from the Mohawk Community of Tyendinaga, dated October 27 2013, requiring your cooperation for the facilitation of a national inquiry into the circumstances of murdered and missing First Nations Women...In a report, published in September 2013 by MaryAnne Pearce and recently obtained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), some 824 First Nations women have now been identified as having been murdered or gone missing, with a majority of those cases documented as having occurred in the past 15 years."
People across Canada rallied in the thousands on February 14, 2014, in support for the end to the violence, death and disappearances.
Brant's Dear Harper letter continues:
"Your unwillingness to consider this first step at reconciliation is well documented and understood.
It is our opinion that all diplomatic means to convince you of the need for an inquiry have failed. Further, the tears and sadness of the families left behind have not moved you to any position of compassion.
We have therefore resolved that we will take whatever and further actions that are deemed necessary, to compel you to call a National Inquiry into the crisis of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women and Girls."
The direct action on Shannonville Road was technically started on Saturday March 1, 2014, when Ontario Provincial Police shut down Wyman Road, which is east of Shannonville Road, late into Friday afternoon when a handful of demonstrators first lit a bonfire near Highway 401.
More to come.
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