Garden River First Nation Traffic Slowdown

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – For the first time in more than a decade, Garden River First Nation will take over a highway Monday, slowing traffic to highlight what it calls the federal government’s neglect of its financial obligations to First Nations education.

Chief Lyle Sayers said the demonstration on Hwy. 17 in northern Ontario is a last resort to turn the attention of Canadians and the government to what he calls a woefully overlooked issue.

“Nobody knows. The only way to get attention is to go out on the highways. It’s very unfortunate. The last thing we want to do is stand on the highway,” Sayers told QMI Agency.

The “peaceful rally” will coincide with the Anishinabek Grand Council fall assembly. Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the gathering.

Native groups have long said a funding shortfall to send their young people to post-secondary schools has kept their people back. As well, for the last 10 years, the government has set a maximum 2% annual increase in the education budget.

Of the variety of issues First Nations have, including resource revenue-sharing, Sayers said education is a building block that determines whether or not people can “make a good living in Canada” and determine their collective future.

“The future of First Nations people is at stake.”

Garden River and Batchewana threatened to disrupt travel and trade through the area last summer over various long-running disputes, including resource revenue-sharing, funding deficiencies and no point-of-sale exemption for the Harmonized Sales Tax. In the end, Batchewana members blockaded the Huron-Central railway for one day in June, but Ottawa expedited the HST point-of-sale exemption and the prospect of Garden River toll booths on the highway faded.

The last major traffic disruption in Garden River was in 1999, in support of a highway bypass that was eventually built and opened in 2008.

‘”We don’t want to upset Canadians who travel the highways, but we also want to make sure they’re aware of what’s going on — and get the attention of the federal government,” he said.

The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec is also planning a slowdown Tuesday on the same issues.

One thought on “Garden River First Nation Traffic Slowdown

  1. Re:Garden River Traffic Slowdown
    Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly November 8 & 9 was held in Garden River First Nation this week where Education was the cause of Peaceful Protest which slowed Traffic.
    I applaud our Chiefs and GR First Nation on voicing the issue of the Funding Cap on Post Secondary Education by embracing and being involved in Direct Action to get attention.
    “If they don’t deal with us, we will shut this country down” Chief Madabee was captured saying on APTN.
    It is comforting to start hearing our leadership awaken from their Passive Blankets of Diplomacy and start engaging in a real Nation to Nation Relationship.
    However many times before we have seen Chiefs speak of such Direct Actions only to back down after their organizations are injected with dollars and where the funds for the issues go through a filtration of bureaucracy and is soaked up by the aboriginal industry of lawyers,social workers and consultants)leading to no resolve of the problems and where frontline Warriors are imprisoned left with hefty legal woes.
    While the highway was shut-down only for two hours it is reminiscent of last years HST photo-opt protests. We eventually won on that issue but remember we still pay GST and Would it not make sense to unify and tackle all our grievances at once and shut down the country instead of an hour or two here and there, Moose and Deer shut down highways longer than we do.
    There is also the Peaceful Protest mentality that is out their amongst our new generation of Road Blockers.
    Chief Sayers of Garden River says ”We don’t want to upset Canadians who travel the highways, but we also want to make sure they’re aware of what’s going on — and get the attention of the federal government,”
    I can guarantee Canadians will be upset along with their police and politicians.
    Canada is a pretty violent place when our people stand-up for our rights. Police and Canadians become especially violent after three or four hours of sitting on a highway.
    The Peaceful Protest then becomes an armed defensive matter of our people. We can sing We shall overcome as long as we want but along with that we can surely count on the Peace becoming something else on their part.
    I applaud our Leaderships new stance on Direct Actions but please don’t use it for Photo-Opts to get attention of the Govt because there are people willing to die for our rights and shutting down the Country is some pretty tough words.


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