Transportation disruptions are spreading across the country this morning, as demonstrators continue to protest in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a pipeline in northern British Columbia and the federal government’s handling of the file.
On Monday, Ontario Provincial Police descended on a rail blockade set up more than two weeks earlier by the Tyendinaga Mohawk near Belleville, Ont., and charged 10 protesters.
That cleared the way for train service to resume in the area, but as the first train moved along the tracks around 7 p.m. ET Monday, protesters tossed a tire onto the tracks and set it on fire.
While the main protest camp outside Belleville has been dismantled, a few Mohawk demonstrators remain on the south side of the tracks and say they are determined to stay as long as the RCMP continues to patrol Wet’suwet’en territory.
OPP officers are also still on site, saying they’re there to make sure the court order to keep the tracks clear is obeyed.
Other transit disturbances have popped up across the country in response.
Hamilton police say they served a court injunction this morning on protesters who set up a blockade along a popular commuter rail line.
Protesters from Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton shut down GO Transit out of the city in support of some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project in B.C.
A spokesperson for regional transportation agency Metrolinx said about a dozen people gathered on the tracks, affecting GO Train service between the city and Niagara Falls.
The transit agency announced on its website that as the result of the ongoing police investigation along the tracks, its trains couldn’t service Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton or West Harbour stations on Tuesday morning.
The protesters also have blocked a section of Highway 6.
A Facebook page called Wet’suwet’en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity says the protesters shut down the rail lines because of the “violence perpetrated towards Indigenous land defenders and their supporters” and the “forced removal and criminalization of Indigenous people from their lands.”
The Facebook post says the protesters will be in place as long as possible.
Anti-pipeline protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en chiefs expanded in Quebec on Tuesday, with a new blockade appearing on a railway line in Sherbrooke.
Dozens of people set up wooden pallets and camping gear along the line in the Lennoxville area of Sherbrooke. One of their signs reads: “Stand up. Fight back.”
WATCH: New rail blockade disrupting commute near Toronto
Meanwhile, a Quebec Superior Court judge has granted an injunction against a blockade along a rail line in the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake, south of Montreal. That blockade has been in place in since February 10, disrupting both freight and commuter rail services.
The injunction takes effect immediately, but it’s not immediately clear how it will be enforced.
At a public meeting in Kahnawake Monday night, the head of the Mohawk Peackeepers police service said it had no intention of enforcing a court order against the protesters.
On Tuesday, Premier François Legault raised the possibility that Quebec’s provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec, would get involved. “The barricades have to be dismantled for the good of the economy,” he said.
On Monday, the the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake put out a statement condemning the OPP’s actions against the Tyendinaga Mohawks and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s public call on Friday for the blockades to come down.
“We cannot state strongly enough our extreme disappointment in the absolute lack of good faith shown by a prime minister who continually expresses his government’s priority is improving its relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” it read.
“What has happened over the past few days has, in fact, undone progress in building relations with Indigenous Peoples.”
School buses were delayed northwest of Montreal as a blockade on the highway running through Kanesatake and Oka, Que continued for the second day.
A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec said Monday that officers were watching the protests on Highway 344 “very closely.”
No reconciliation through force: AFN
In British Columbia, demonstrations continued to block public access to the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature. Some protesters slept on the steps in front of the entrance overnight.
On Monday, members of the Gitxsan Nation also set up a blockade in the province’s northwest, in New Hazelton. The renewed protest comes less than two weeks after a similar blockade at that site was dismantled in response to a promise of dialogue from federal and provincial politicians.
Witnesses said several people, including at least two hereditary chiefs, were arrested at a railway blockade in northern B.C. Monday evening.
A RCMP spokesperson wouldn’t confirm the arrests, saying that area falls under the jurisdiction of CN Police.
Jonathan Abecassis, senior media relations manager with CN Rail, declined to comment.
Earlier this month, B.C. RCMP enforced a court injunction against those preventing contractors from accessing the construction area for the Coastal GasLink project.
On Friday, the RCMP in British Columbia moved its officers out of an outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory to a nearby detachment in the town of Houston. A spokesperson for the force said they continue to have discussions with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, issued a statement after the Tyendinaga arrests saying that the police action “shows once again that we will never achieve reconciliation through force.”