Chiefs and staff of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne were invited to attend the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) training facility in Rigaud, Quebec this past Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, where a graduation ceremony was held for more than 60 new graduates of the intensive 16-week training program. The new officers will join CBSA ports across the country at land crossings and airports. Grand Chief Abram Benedict provided words of congratulations and reminded the graduates that they are joining the field of border protection during an era of truth and reconciliation.


The president of CBSA Erin O’Gorman provided a tour of the massive training campus where recruits must pass a variety of courses, on subjects ranging from laws and policies to proper use of their equipment and weapons. The training facility is also home to a state-of-the-art K-9 Centre of Excellence, where dogs are taught to locate weapons, drugs, or other items, using positive reinforcement.


The group also toured the training facility’s “Elders Lounge” which features artifacts, art, and miscellaneous items from across Indian country, including furniture and kastowas made by Akwesasne company Two-House Design. The lounge is intended to provide a comforting space for Indigenous visitors where they can step away and feel more at home. The facility also has a teepee outside (seasonally) which provides an outdoor area where smudging can take place and any other ceremonial activities.


Any Indigenous applicants to CBSA are provided with a mentor (by request) who can assist the individual with applying and serve as a support through the intense training program, helping to ensure the applicant is successful.


Following the tour, CBSA officials and MCA chiefs and staff who are part of the MCA & CBSA Border Collaboration Initiative (BCI) held a meeting to confirm details of their priorities and revised joint work plan. Together, MCA and CBSA confirmed that they will be dedicating a working circle to the discussion of Dundee Port operations and how they can work toward mirroring the operations at the Cornwall port. Additionally, communication, engagement, and training priorities will continue.