Border in Cornwall, Ont., reopened after CBSA, Mohawk band dispute
CORNWALL, Ont. - The Seaway International Bridge, a temporary border crossing in Cornwall, Ont., was briefly shut down Saturday amid a dispute between the Akwesasne First Nation and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Cornwall police were called to shut down the bridge around noon and remained on site to divert traffic away from the border crossing.
Akwesasne spokesman Brendan White said the border crossing reopened late Saturday afternoon after talks between the agency and the Mohawk band.
On Friday, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne accused the agency of seizing vehicles and fining residents who failed to report to Canada Customs after coming to the island from the U.S.
White said "to do so would have required our community members to travel out of the way before going home."
Since the checkpoint opened in mid-July, Akwesasne residents have had to check in at customs when coming from New York State to Cornwall Island.
Due to conflicting reports, it was not entirely clear who asked for the bridge to close Saturday, but the agency said it did not initiate the bridge closure and stressed its temporary border point remained open.
CBSA confirmed it did meet with Mohawk council to discuss the situation and a spokesperson said the agency was "committed to ongoing dialogue."
The agency has made it clear to the Akwesasne what the legal requirements are to cross the border, Tracie LeBlanc said in an email Saturday.
"Since July 13, we have been clearly and consistently communicating the legal obligation for travellers to Canada to report directly to the Port of Cornwall," she said in the email.
CBSA said it has put up signs and has started a leaflet campaign to ensure travellers know what they must do when using the temporary crossing.
The temporary crossing is a short-term solution and the CBSA continues to look for a permanent solution, she said.
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