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May 28, 2017

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Canadian border crossing closed because of protest

CORNWALL, Ontario -- A U.S. border crossing in eastern Ontario remained closed Monday after Mohawk Indians said they would protest against a policy that requires Canadian border guards to carry guns.

Canadian Border Services Agency workers left their posts on Cornwall Island, citing safety concerns, just before midnight Sunday in advance of the Akwesasne Mohawk demonstration.

The officers in Cornwall were to begin carrying the weapons on Monday.

About 40 Mohawks, who were camped out near the building, said they worried that arming guards with handguns could lead to violence on their land.

In Ottawa, Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said no border crossings will be exempt from that recently enacted policy.

"That will remain the case until such time as the local Mohawk band indicates they're willing to accept the border officers being armed as government policy," Van Loan said.

In 2007, Canada's Conservative government began equipping border guards with pistols.

Over the next decade, 4,800 officers will eventually be armed at land and marine border points. Officers are required to file detailed reports whenever they draw or discharge their weapons.

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