New border crossing process could make life easier for Mohawks of Akwesasne

A new reporting process could shorten border lines and minimize a headache for members of Akwesasne who travel over the Canada-U.S. border.

Annette Francis
A new reporting process could shorten border lines and minimize a headache for members of Akwesasne who must travel over the Canada-U.S. border.

It’s routine that commuters have faced every day for the past eight years when in 2009, residents expressed their concerns over the arming of Canadian border guards.

That prompted the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to abandon its post on Cornwall island and leaving the Mohawk Territory.

“Ever since 2009, when Canada customs decided to relocate to the city of Cornwall, we have been calling on the government of Canada, CBSA to establish some sort of alternative reporting mechanism,” said Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict.

“Which we’ve seen made available to other locations within the country.”

According to Benedict, a remote check-in is now being considered.

And it’s a process that would have saved April Thompson a lot of trouble.

Four years ago, the Akwesasne resident was charged because she didn’t report that she had dropped her daughter off on Cornwall Island before reporting with her at the port of entry.

“It’s all because I didn’t check-in right away,” said Thompson. “So what they wanted me to do is drive to Cornwall check-in, bring her back to the island and then go back to Cornwall to work.”

“So, for two years, I was in court with the outcome being found guilty.”

If approved, Benedict believes wait times at the Cornwall port of entry would be shortened.

“Reporting stations would be placed here on Cornwall Island for residents travelling in from other parts of the community would be able to stop instead of driving into the city of Cornwall, they ‘d be processed here electronically through a two-way communications system with an officer in the city of Cornwall.

It’s a move that, not surprisingly, April Thompson supports.

“Just going through that even now, going through customs, having to check-in and going through, I get, if a certain question is asked, I start shaking you know and I wonder OMG am I going to get called in again, what’s going to happen?”

In a written statement, a spokesperson with the CBSA says details such as the exact location and who will be eligible to participate have not be finalized.

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