Monday September 22, 2014

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Dakota Nation protesters stop in Brandon

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Journal photo by Chris Tataryn

Nearly 75 Dakota Nation protesters rode into town to show their displeasure over the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop court case last Thursday. The group stopped in front of the Brandon Courthouse after riding into town down Victoria Avenue.

Last Thursday, dozens of Dakota Nation protesters rode into town to stop in front of the Brandon Courthouse, upset over the province’s handling of the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop near Pipestone.
The unlicensed store has been selling cigarettes illegally, according to provincial tax laws.
“Dakota have never signed a treaty with the province of Manitoba and therefore the province does not have jurisdiction over the people to impose its laws on. The Chundee Smoke Shop remains open, despite the province’s attempt to have the store closed,” announced a statement from the Dakota Nation.
“We’re here to protest the tobacco court case,” said Mizaasicuna, one of the protestors on horseback.
“We Dakota are a sovereign nation; we never gave up our rights. White people are always trying to keep us down like this, and we are getting sick and tired of it.”
The Chundee Smoke Shop has been raided several times in the last year after opening November 9, 2011, having upwards of $40,000 worth of Mohawk cigarettes confiscated. The shop is not located on reserve land, but is owned by leaders from the Dakota Plains and Canupawakpa First Nations. They have been selling untaxed cigarettes from Mohawk distributors in Quebec for as little as $40 a carton or $5 a pack, which is less than half the regular price in Manitoba. On June 4, the smoke shop was officially served with a court injunction, ordering its closure.  The injunction was a temporary “fix” to the problem while a judge heard the province’s case against the eight Dakota Plains and Canupawakpa First Nations who have operated the store, but Canupawakpa Dakota Chief Franklin Brown has said repeatedly that the store will remain open, as the Dakota people don’t fall under provincial jurisdiction and should be allowed to operate under their own laws.
“There’s no agreed jurisdiction yet,” said Brown last month after the injunction.
“There’s no compromise with Dakota and the province to co-exist; it’s just not there.”
While the owners of the shop have indicated they will not be obeying the order to stop selling unlicensed cigarettes, they must now deal with several serious charges under the Tobacco Tax Act.


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