Native protest blocks railway
First Nations members blocked the railway track at the Garden River First Nation entrance Friday for two hours to create awareness about concerns and grievances the band has with senior levels of government.
Darrell Boissoneau, a Garden River council member, said the impromptu protest drew about 30 members and stopped the train Friday morning.
Boissoneau said the demonstration was designed to heighten awareness about First Nation concerns over the July 1 implementation of the HST tax, to protest the imbalance in stimulus money provided to Garden River First Nation and to voice objections to the slow progress in the outstanding land claim involving the western boundary of Garden River reserve.
Boissoneau said the Harmonized Sales Tax, or HST, which is set to be implemented July 1, is an issue that is expected to negatively affect all Ontarians by costing them more for many of the products and services they currently purchase.
The implementation would eliminate the point-of-sale PST exemption currently enjoyed by First Nation people.
Boissoneau said while it is great for communities like Sault Ste. Marie to be successful in its bid for recent stimulus project funding, Garden River received only $14,000 for a new buffing machine for its recreation centre floors and was not equally considered for its community projects.
Those projects included a seniors independence living complex and a a National Chiefs Library.
"There's a significant imbalance here that the province and federal government has to explain," he said.
Boissoneau said a special meeting will be held Tuesday at the Garden River Community Centre to develop further strategies to increase the awareness of the concerns that First Nations people have.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
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