Indigenous services minister offers to meet with protesters if they end blockade along CN tracks

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has offered to meet with the Mohawks of Tyendinaga if they end an eight-day demonstration that has shut down passenger and freight rail traffic through southern Ontario, according to an email obtained by CBC News.

Miller sent the email just after midnight Thursday to three individuals, including Kanenhariyo, whose English name is Seth LeFort; Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief Donald Maracle; and Assembly of First Nations Ontario regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald.

In the email, Miller said he would agree to meet with the Mohawks of Tyendinaga on Saturday if the demonstration along the CN tracks ended.

“My request that I ask you kindly to consider is to discontinue the protest and barricade of the train tracks as soon as practicable. As you well know, this is a highly volatile situation and the safety of all involved is of utmost importance to me,” Miller wrote in the email.

“I hope you will agree to this request and that we can meet in a spirit of peace and co-operation that should guide our relationship.”

The Mohawk demonstrators along the tracks are meeting this morning to discuss how to respond to this offer.

The Ontario Superior Court issued an injunction last Friday prohibiting continued interference with CN Rail’s operations.

The Ontario Provincial Police have told the demonstrators they would be enforcing the injunction. OPP presence was visibly increased on Thursday morning.

Minister calls to renew treaty

CBC News reached Maracle Thursday morning, but he said he couldn’t comment until a formal statement was released on the issue.

Archibald also said she couldn’t comment, but that her office would issue a statement should the demonstrators stand down.

In the email, Miller said he wanted to renew a 17th century treaty between the Iroqouis and European settlers.

“I am writing to confirm what I agreed orally a short while ago: that pursuant to the principles of the Silver Chain Covenant, I hereby agree to polish the Chain with you and the Kanien’kehá:ka of Tyendinaga at a location of your choosing this coming Saturday,” wrote Miller.

The email ends with a sign off in Mohawk.

Miller has been learning to speak Mohawk and has personal relations with Mohawk communities.


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