Protesters from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario have blocked passenger and freight trains through Belleville, Ontario, in a multi-day demonstration of support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia.
The action came as protests across B.C. blocked trains, ports, and some streets, and hundreds gathered in front of Vancouver City Hall, all opposing construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.
Although CN Rail received an injunction against the Ontario blockade Friday, rail lines from Montreal and Ottawa to Toronto were still out of service Sunday. “Due to the protesters currently blocking tracks near Belleville, Ontario, train service between Montreal and Toronto and between Ottawa and Toronto is affected in both directions,” Via Rail cautioned travellers. “None of the trains on these two routes will operate until the issue is resolved. We are asking passengers to check our online tools for departures and arrivals updates.”
“The protesters have said they will stop train traffic until the RCMP leave Wet’suwet’en territory, where a recent court injunction ordered protesters to leave and clear the way for work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline,” CBC reports. The Ontario Superior Court injunction does not name any individual, “forbids any continued interference with the rail line under the threat of arrest, and was served to demonstrators by CN police Saturday afternoon.”
While the Tyendinaga protesters never actually blocked the tracks, CBC says photos from the scene “show a dump truck parked next to the rails and signs that read ‘RCMP get out’ and ‘Indianland’.” A CN Rail spokesperson said “several dozens” of freight and passenger trains had been cancelled as a result.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and we are evaluating all of our options as we are well aware of the impact this situation, [which] is beyond our control, has on those who depend on rail transportation to move goods and passengers safely and efficiently,” Jonathan Abecassis said in the statement.
Via Rail said it had cancelled 28 trains through Saturday, and expected to cancel 10 more yesterday. It’ll issue refunds to affected passengers.