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OPP officer mistakenly spots a gun among protesters. High powered assault rifles retrieved. © Dominik Wisniewski

"I was never so frightened in my entire life": Excessive and dangerous police response during Mohawk land rights demonstrations on the Culbertson Track

    OPP officer mistakenly spots a gun among protesters. High powered assault rifles retrieved. © Dominik Wisniewski

    May 2011 Report

    More so than other protests, Aboriginal land rights protests can create complex challenges for police and politicians. Such protests take place in a context of a long history of systemic discrimination against Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society as a whole that has led to a significant gulf in trust and understanding between police and Aboriginal people. Where Aboriginal protests inconvenience members of the general public through road closures and blockades, police and politicians may face considerable pressure to bring the protests to a quick and decisive end. It is important, however, that police functions remain politically neutral and do not favour, or appear to favour, the interests of governments that are parties to land claims disputes, or any other sector of society, over the rights and interests of Aboriginal peoples. This is especially important when land claims remain unresolved or where acknowledged violations of Aboriginal land rights have not been remedied.