Freedom for Shawn Brant, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

CVEC calls for freedom for Shawn Brant, spokesperson for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
Below is a resolution passed by the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC) at its monthly planning meeting held today, August 12, 2007, followed by an explanatory statement of the Tyendinaga Solidarity Committee.

Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC) meeting, August 12, 2007,

We of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition support the civil rights and civil liberties of Shawn Brant, who was again denied bail August 10 on charges stemming from the June 29, 2007, Aboriginal Day of Action.

Shawn Brant and other indigenous peoples were invited to the First International Conference of Indigenous Peoples taking place this week in Venezuela. The Canadian government has unjustly and cruelly prevented him from responding to this invitation by penalizing him for his participation in the just cause for reclamation of indigenous lands.

We demand Shawn’s immediate release from jail, so that he may rejoin his family and his people’s struggle for their rights.

We stand in solidarity with Shawn's family and the community at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory who have appealed to people for support of Shawn's bid for release.

The Venezuela We Are With You Coalition stands firm with the demands of the indigenous peoples here in Canada and the U.S. (Turtle Island) and pledge our support for their courageous struggle.

Shawn Brant, a prominent activist among Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory), was denied bail for the second time earlier this month. Shawn is currently imprisoned in Quinte Detention Centre, Napanee.

Shawn Brant is the only person facing charges for his role in two major blockades carried out by members of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte during the past four months, as part of the struggle for their land.

Clearly, Brant's real "crime" has been to take a firm stand against the theft of the land, the denial of sovereignty, and the impoverishment and abuse of his People.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga, and Shawn Brant as a prominent activist for the community, have carved out a national platform to expose Canada's complicity in the suffering of First Nations peoples. Given Brant's refusal to live as a victim of the Canadian state's systemic violence, he poses too great a threat to a country built on the backs of First Nations peoples. That is why he is still in jail, and why, if convicted, he will face federal penitentiary time. The government of Canada is trying to send a brutal message to First Nations people committed to resisting centuries of genocide and colonialism.

As supporters, allies, and people who live on and profit from stolen land -- even through our mere existence -- we bear a serious responsibility to understand the struggle in Tyendinaga, to support the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and to participate in the fight for Shawn Brant's freedom. If we sit back and allow this act of criminalization to imprison Shawn at length, if we allow Shawn Brant's family to be torn apart, we too are participating in the on-going war against the original people of this land.

The Canadian government is determined to continue its colonial project ruthlessly and at age-old high cost. It is vital that we shift the balance of forces by building a movement of solidarity around Shawn Brant and, by extension, First Nations' struggle for justice, respect, and the land.

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