Tag Archives: Railway Blockades

As Quebec rail blockades come down, supporters demand Indigenous rights be respected

After dismantling the rail blockade, Mohawks from Kahnawake built a new barricade in a green space near Montreal’s Mercier Bridge on Thursday. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Encampments blocking lines through Kahnawake, Listiguj had been in place since early February

The remaining blockades halting rail traffic in Quebec were taken down Thursday, putting an end to three weeks of protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia.

Supporters in Kahnawake, a Mohawk territory on Montreal’s South Shore, and in Listiguj, where Mi’kmaq activists had blocked a rail line that connects the Gaspé Peninsula with New Brunswick, dismantled their encampments Thursday afternoon.

But they stressed their fight isn’t over.

In Kahnawake, people marched through the streets, temporarily blocking traffic, with a banner that read: “Protect our future. No more pipelines.”

Roxann Whitebean, a filmmaker who lives in Kahnawake, said the decision to take down the blockade on a CP Rail line should be seen as a message of “good faith to all of Canada.”

“Depending on how Canada moves forward, we are ready to react and we will ensure that our rights and lands will no longer be violated. We will not back down until these standards are met,” she said.

Roxann Whitebean, a Mohawk writer and filmmaker, addressed reporters in the middle of the highway. She said Indigenous rights must be respected.

The encampment was relocated to a green space near the Mercier Bridge, a heavily trafficked connection between Montreal and the city’s South Shore.

“We want the fire to be visible for every commuter that crosses the Mercier Bridge, to show that we are here to stay for as long as the Wet’suwet’en need us,” said Whitebean.

“We will be closely monitoring the situation in Wet’suwet’en as well other Indigenous communities.”

The blockade in Listuguj, Que., was taken down soon after. Raquel Barnaby, a spokesperson for Mi’kmaq activists, said their goals had been met.

“Our goals were for the RCMP to back away from the Wet and for hereditary chiefs to be at the table,” she said. “We just want to end it on a positive note.”

Supporters in Listiguj took down their encampment Thursday. (Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada)

Other blockades across Canada have already come down.

Over the weekend, Wet’suwet’en chiefs and representatives of the federal and B.C. governments announced they had reached a draft agreement concerning some of the issues involved in an ongoing dispute over a pipeline that would run through traditional land.

Quebec Premier François Legault’s government had expressed growing impatience with the Kahnawake blockade, arguing it was hurting the province’s economy.

Injunctions were obtained against both barricades, but never enforced.

Legault told reporters last week Quebec provincial police hadn’t moved in because there are AK-47s in Kahnawake. The comment was decried as “reckless” by leaders in the Mohawk community.

After the blockades came down, the premier said on Twitter the “negative effects that these blockades had, particularly on public transport users & on the economy, are deplorable. Solutions must be found so that it does not happen again.”

Highway 132 near the Mercier Bridge was briefly blocked after the barricade in Kahnawake was dismantled. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

In a statement on its website, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said Thursday the blockade was a “sincere and peaceful expression of support” for Wet’suwet’en chiefs.

“Even in 2020 it seems that it takes a crisis for governments to truly engage,” said Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton.

“We have been advocating for meaningful dialogue in the interest of peace and safety for all people.”

Supporters of the blockade in Kahnawake say they want Indigenous rights to be respected. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

By: Benjamin Shingler · CBC News · Posted: Mar 05, 2020

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Ottawa ‘very concerned’ about blockades as CN Rail says it will close ‘significant’ parts of its network

Canadian National Railway Co. says it will have to temporarily shutter much of its national network because of protests affecting its rail lines. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Anti-pipeline protests crippling transport network will undoubtedly damage economy, minister says

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the federal Liberal government is “very concerned” about growing anti-pipeline protests that are crippling parts of the country’s transport network, including one of the main rail arteries in southern Ontario.

J.J. Ruest, the president and CEO of CN Rail, said in a statement Tuesday the railway has no choice but to temporarily shutter “significant” parts of its network because blockades by Indigenous protesters near Belleville, Ont., and New Hazelton, B.C., have made train movements in the rest of the country all but impossible.

“We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the protests threaten industry across the country, including the transport of food and consumer items, grain, de-icing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and natural resources like lumber, aluminum and coal.

“These blockades will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the impact of the blockades are “being felt beyond Canada’s borders and is harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.”

The Tyendinaga Mohawk action in southern Ontario has halted freight and passenger rail traffic since Thursday, snarling winter travel plans and the movement of Canadian exports. The Mohawks involved say they are standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

Tyendinaga Mohawk members said Tuesday they won’t end their demonstration until the RCMP leaves the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en, where there have been numerous arrests of protesters who have been blocking an access road to the natural gas pipeline construction site.

Members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory bring their protest to the CN/Via Rail tracks near Belleville, Ont., for a sixth day on Tuesday, in support of the Wet’suwet’en, who are fighting construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories in northern B.C. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Via Rail has had to cancel 157 scheduled trips on the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor as of 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, leaving 24,500 passengers in the lurch.

The New Hazelton blockade has stopped traffic in and out of the Ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat in B.C., among the country’s largest, halting waterfront operations.

First Nations workers affected, says shipping terminal CEO

Shaun Stevenson, the CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, said the shipping terminal has nothing to do with the Coastal GasLink project and yet its operations, and the thousands of First Nations people who work there, have become collateral damage to the protests.

“We have in excess of 6,000 people that rely on the Port of Prince Rupert, its operations and its modes and nodes of transportation, for their livelihood in northern B.C.,” he said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Daybreak North. “The economic vitality of northern B.C. depends on the port.”

He said as many as 3,600 jobs — 40 per cent of the workforce is Indigenous — depend on a fully operational port.

“They’re involved in every aspect of the port operations; they’re entrenched in every facet,” Stevenson said of Indigenous peoples. “They have ownership stakes in terminals here. First Nations operate the largest trucking company with the port … we’re hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached,” Stevenson said.

Ruest said CN has obtained court injunctions that allow the police to remove the protesters in Ontario and B.C. so that rail traffic can resume.

Garneau said the continuing disruptions will undoubtedly damage the economy as CN moves tens of billions of dollars worth of goods over those tracks each year.

“The government of Canada is seized of the issue. We’d like to resolve it as quickly as possible, but it’s a complex issue. Hopefully we’ll resolve it as quickly as possible,” Garneau said.

Beyond the economic hit, Garneau said the protests are a risk to public safety.

“It is illegal. It infringes on the railway safety act. It’s dangerous to block the rails so we’re very concerned about it from that point of view,” Garneau said.

While concerned, Garneau said it is not for Ottawa to enforce court injunctions giving police the power to clear away Indigenous protesters. He said it is for provincial authorities to enact the removal orders — not Ottawa.

The Wetʼsuwetʼen hereditary chiefs maintain they have sole authority over 22,000 square kilometres of the nation’s traditional territory, and did not give consent to the Coastal GasLink proponent, TC Energy, to build in the area.

While opposed by the hereditary chiefs, all 20 First Nations impacted by construction of the natural gas project have signed impact benefit agreements with TC Energy. The elected Indian Act band council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation has also given the go-ahead to TC to build the project, which will employ hundreds of local Indigenous people.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a key component of a $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal at Kitimat, B.C., under development to ship natural gas to international markets. It is on the territory of the Haisla Nation, which supports the project.

Objecting to #ShutDownCanada message

Conservative leadership contender Erin O’Toole said the government isn’t doing enough to support the police as they move to enforce the injunction against the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters camped out on the access road near the Coastal GasLink site.

He said the anti-pipeline protesters there have gone too far in their rhetoric.

“When I see people with a hashtag of ‘Shutdown Canada’ and signs calling the RCMP apartheid — there is a total disconnect with some people who feel that they can take protests to a stage of actually stopping people from working, stopping court orders; that’s very disruptive.

“I don’t think the Trudeau government has any plan to deal with it,” O’Toole said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics.

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Feb 11, 2020

[SOURCE]

Conditions Present for First Nations Uprising

Masked warrior on guard at burning car barricade, Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Source: warriorpublications

Masked warrior on guard at burning car barricade, Burnt Church, New Brunswick.

Non-Indigenous Canadians have dismissed recent warning signs

Canada is headed toward a confrontation with its First Nations people that could lead to “coherent civil action” that threatens the country’s economic lifeblood, a new book warns. Time Bomb, written by Doug Bland, former chair of Defence Management Studies at Queen’s University, argues the conditions are present for an uprising by First Nations people frustrated by decades of seeing their aspirations ignored by Canadian governments.

He urges people not to minimize the risk this frustration could turn into a rebellion and that Canada’s critical transportation links – railways and roads – are vulnerable to protests that could shut them down and cost the economy millions.

His sober warning comes amid deeply strained relations between Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and some aboriginal leaders.

Next week, hundreds of chiefs from the country’s largest aboriginal group, the Assembly of First Nations, will meet in Winnipeg to elect a new national chief and discuss key issues, from First Nations education, to missing and murdered indigenous women, to treaty rights.

“If Canada’s present policies and the historic indifference of Canadians toward the people of the First Nations and their aspirations continue without amendment, and if First Nations leaders continue to assert their right to unconditional sovereignty in Canada, then a confrontation between our two cultures is unavoidable,” Bland writes.

“The critical questions for both societies in such a circumstance are: What form would such a confrontation take, and how widespread would it become?” Bland cites one academic theory that says if a rebellion is “feasible,” it will occur.

In an interview with Postmedia News, Bland stressed he is “not predicting a revolution or an armed uprising.” But he said he is issuing a warning a “confrontation” could occur unless the government and First Nations leaders find innovative ways to prevent one.

He said part of the problem is many non-indigenous Canadians have dismissed recent warning signs: Grassroots movements such as Idle No More and threats from some aboriginal leaders to mount protests to shut down the economy.

“People just aren’t listening to them,” he said. “And they don’t understand how vulnerable the country is.”

Bland writes there is growing support among aboriginals favouring “a unified First Nations strategy for coherent civil action” and people should not ignore roadblocks and political standoffs.

“There is a pattern in these events, a pattern that is in 2014 heading in one way: Toward more demonstrations and confrontations and a gathering confidence in the First Nations communities that their causes can be advanced through the power of ‘activist politics.'”

Bland notes 48.8 per cent of the First Nations population is under the age of 24 and that some of those young people can be transformed into “warriors.”

“These young people, like most of the First Nations population, are concentrated in areas critically important to Canada’s resource industries and transportation infrastructure.”

Bland writes the railways and roads transporting everything from oil and grain to manufactured goods are “impossible to defend”. A small cohort of minimally trained ‘warriors’ could close these systems in a matter of hours.

“All the danger is sitting out there. And getting it wrong is for the government to try to bully its way through this thing. Or for some of the aggressive chiefs to try to bully their way the other way, pushing each other back and forth. It’s going to end up in a confrontation sometime.”

Originally published by the Star-Phoenix

[SOURCE]