July 02, 2007

National Day of Action

Canada:  Mohawks block roads, rail lines in National Day of ActionFirst Nations activists held protests across Canada over the Canada Day holiday weekend in a National Day of Action against the Conservative government emphasizing land claims and other disputes. In Ontario, camouflage-clad Mohawks, some reportedly armed, blocked Highway 401 between Belleville and Napanee for more than 10 hours June 29 and also halted passenger and freight train service along the Canadaian National Railway's busiest corridor. Rail service between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa was shut for several hours.

In Ottawa that day, some 1,000 people marched past the Parliament buildings in a march led by Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Speaking on an Ottawa River island that is claimed by an Algonquin tribe, Fontaine said the protest day was "about hope and giving our children a reason to live." He told marchers that his 13-year-old niece had recently committed suicide, a disproportionately high cause of death for many young people on Canada's native reserves.

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