The latest on protests across Canada in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs | Squamish Chief

The latest on protests across Canada in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs

Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia (All times Eastern):

9:50 p.m.

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Toronto police are responding to a protest in the city's west end.

Police say they are on scene to keep the peace and limit disruption to "critical infrastructure."

Video footage on social media shows protesters around a rail line.

Police would not confirm if the rail line has been blocked.

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7:25 p.m.

The Hamilton Police Service says protesters who occupied rail tracks in the city have peacefully left the site.

The small group of protesters had been served with an injunction by CN Rail to leave the tracks late Monday night.

The blockade forced the cancellation of Metrolinx service at the West Harbour GO, Hamilton GO, St. Catharines GO and Niagara Falls GO stations.

The disruption along the busy routes left thousands of passengers scrambling to make alternative travel arrangements.

It also affected CN and CP rail service.

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5:42 p.m.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake says it may challenge CP Rail's injunction to end a rail blockade that began more than two weeks ago in the Mohawk community south of Montreal.

Grand Chief Joseph Norton says in a statement that the council is considering all its options in response to the injunction granted today by a Quebec Superior Court judge.

Norton says the Kahnawake Peacekeepers are the only policing agency with jurisdiction in the territory, and their police chief has indicated he has no interest in criminalizing those participating in blockades.

Norton described CP Rail's action as rash, adding that "history reminds us that the proper approach to addressing issues is through dialogue and discussion — not by sending in police."

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5:07 p.m. ET

Vancouver police say they arrested six people who refused to abide by a court order that prohibits the main entrance to the city's port from being blocked.

Protesters arrived outside the port Monday afternoon and police say they reminded them of the injunction and asked them to leave prior to the arrests today.

The injunction was granted to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority on Feb. 9.

Several people were taken into custody by police when a similar blockade was removed nearly three weeks ago.

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4:57 p.m. ET

The RCMP say they arrested three people at a blockade of CP Rail tracks near Chase, B.C.

The Mounties say in a news release they were called to assist the Canadian Pacific Police Service after at least two dozen protesters obstructed the tracks.

They say the remainder removed their belongings from the tracks voluntarily.

Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band east of Kamloops says members of the band were showing support for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline.

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5:16 p.m. ET

The company operating a popular commuter rail service covering a large swath of southern Ontario says fresh blockades are causing major delays and service suspensions on multiple routes.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins says at least two of GO Transit's routes running west of Toronto have been halted altogether, causing major crowding at the downtown station that serves as a major travel hub.

She says service was also paused on a route running east of the city, but significant delays persist even though the trains are running again.

Toronto police could not immediately provide details about the new blockades, but Aikins describes the situation as fluid and quickly evolving.

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5 p.m. ET

Police in Vancouver have arrested several demonstrators at a major intersection leading to the city's port, just hours after warning them the protest was violating a court injunction.

At least four people were seen to be arrested by the police this afternoon.

Protesters had been blocking traffic at the intersection for almost 24 hours but most of the crowd moved to the sidewalk after being warned by police.

Several people were taken into custody by police when a similar blockade was removed nearly three weeks ago.

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4 p.m. ET

CP Rail says in a statement that despite obtaining an injunction today to end a rail blockade on its tracks in Kahnawake, it is encouraging peaceful dialogue to resolve the matter.

The railway says it has acted honourably and respectfully with Indigenous leaders since the blockade went up more than two weeks ago, but without a resolution and with other blockades popping up, the company felt it needed to act.

It says it secured the injunction to deal with any so-called copycat blockades that may emerge in the future.

The railway says it has supported the Wet'suwet'en where it could and Keith Creel, the company's president and CEO, wrote to the prime minister in support of the hereditary chiefs in their call for direct dialogue with the prime minister last week.

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3:55 p.m. ET

Police in Vancouver have warned demonstrators to move out of a major intersection leading to the port of Vancouver, advising them they risk arrest for violating a court injunction preventing interference with access to the port.

A large number of officers gathered this afternoon at the intersection where demonstrators have blocked traffic for almost 24 hours.

Most of the estimated 70 protesters have moved to the sidewalks.

Several people were taken into custody by police when a similar blockade was removed nearly three weeks ago, but no arrests have been made so far today.

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2:15 p.m. ET

The transit agency Exo says it is losing $35,000 to $45,000 each weekday the Kahnawake blockade continues because of the 30-odd buses it has to rent daily to shuttle passengers to and from downtown Montreal.

That means the commuter rail service has lost up to $540,000 as of this afternoon, the 12th weekday of rail disruption.

Exo spokeswoman Catherine Maurice says a a shortage of buses and drivers in the Montreal area is adding to the difficulty.

She says the service is in contact with partners, including the provincial government and Montreal's regional transportation authority, over who will ultimately foot the bill.

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2:05 p.m. ET

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the CN and CP railways have been co-operating to move freight between Toronto and Montreal despite the blockade of a key CN track connecting the cities.

He compares the competitors' decision to share routes and equipment to the way they sometimes work together after a mudslide takes out a section of track.

Some essential goods were transported around the blockade at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario, Garneau says, including through the northern part of the province.

Garneau says he didn't order the move as transport minister but credited the companies for co-operating in the best interests of Canadians.

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1:40 p.m. ET

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the federal government is still working on "de-escalation" of the dispute between the RCMP and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia.

Miller says the government is still trying to find an agreement on the hereditary chiefs' demands that the RCMP leave their territory, after leaving an outpost on an access road to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

He says communication has been challenging, since some of the hereditary chiefs have been in B.C. while others travelled to Ontario late last week to visit Mohawk supporters.

But Miller says exchanges went on all weekend and continued Monday.

He says every level of government is aiming for a peaceful resolution.

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1:20 p.m. ET

Amnesty International has issued an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after visiting Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario, where police took down a rail blockade yesterday.

The organization is calling on the prime minister to ensure all those arrested as part of protests in support of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, but who have not engaged in criminal violence, are released unconditionally.

It is also urging Trudeau to suspend construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in the absence of the free and informed consent of the Wet'suwet'en people.

The letter also calls for the complete withdrawal of the RCMP from Wet'suwet'en territory and lays out other steps it says Trudeau should take in engaging with Indigenous leaders and peoples.

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1 p.m. ET

A leader of a British Columbia First Nation that neighbours the Wet'suwet'en says 14 people were arrested last night at a blockade outside New Hazelton.

Gitxsan Nation Hereditary Chief Spookwx says three other hereditary chiefs were also taken into custody as RCMP removed a demonstration on the CN Rail main line in northern B.C.

A similar blockade was set up by the Gitxsan earlier this month and removed as a show of good faith on Feb. 13.

But Spookwx, who also goes by Norm Stephens, says the protest resumed because RCMP have not acted quickly enough to leave Wet'suwet'en territory, where a disputed natural gas pipeline is under construction.

He says all 14 demonstrators have since been released by Mounties.

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12:10 p.m. ET

Canadian Pacific Railway has obtained an injunction to end a blockade that began in early February in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, south of Montreal.

A spokeswoman for the court says the injunction was granted today by Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel A. Pinsonnault.

On Monday, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake had commended CP Rail and the Quebec government for its patience over the past two weeks and for avoiding seeking an injunction.

A spokesman for the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers wasn't immediately available today, but Chief Peacekeeper Dwayne Zacharie has previously said he would not enforce an injunction on his own people.

The blockaded line is used for freight traffic as well as commuter rail service between Montreal and several communities to the south, which was interrupted as of Feb. 10.

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11:45 a.m. ET

Another blockade popped up in Quebec early today as protesters descended on a rail line in Sherbrooke, about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

About 20 people, their faces covered, set up along a rail line in the city's Lennoxville district.

The protesters blocked the tracks and put up signs saying they were supporting hereditary chiefs from Wet'suwet'en First Nation, who are opposed to a natural gas pipeline on their traditional lands.

Protesters refused to speak to reporters on site, and Sherbrooke police have set up a security perimeter in the area.

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11:15 a.m. ET

Hamilton police say a court injunction has been served to protesters who have set up a blockade on a popular commuter rail line.

But Const. Jerome Stewart won't say whether police are prepared to enforce the injunction.

Stewart says the force is monitoring the situation and focused on maintaining a peaceful environment.

The new blockade, which is affecting GO Train service, comes just a day after police moved on an encampment in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont.

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11:00 a.m. ET

Police say a second encampment remains not far from the main rail blockade that was dismantled yesterday in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario.

Ontario Provincial Police spokesman Bill Dickson says there were several small fires at the site yesterday around the time a CN train slowly made its way through.

He says the local power provider temporarily shut off parts of the grid because the fires were close to some power lines.

Dickson says the force does not have jurisdiction there as it falls on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and under the purview of local police.

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9:21 a.m. ET

Passenger rail service is halted this morning along a popular commuter rail line near Hamilton.

A spokeswoman for Metrolinx says about a dozen people gathered on the tracks affecting GO Train service between the city and Niagara Falls.

She says Hamilton police and CN Rail are investigating.

The new blockade comes barely 24 hours after police dismantled a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., arresting 10 people.

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9:00 a.m. ET

Anti-pipeline protesters continue to block a major Vancouver intersection that is also a key entry to the port of Vancouver.

Demonstrators arrived at the intersection early Monday afternoon and say they will remain, although the Port of Vancouver has an injunction prohibiting interference with truck traffic to and from the busy harbour.

Police are at the scene and monitored the demonstration through the night but have not taken any action to remove it.

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8:30 a.m. ET

A group of protesters remains locked to a gate of the British Columbia legislature in defiance of an injunction obtained almost two weeks ago after hundreds of demonstrators surrounded the building and impeded or prevented access for most of the day.

The group moved onto the steps of the legislature Monday evening in response to arrests earlier in the day on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario as police removed a rail blockade set up by supporters of the B.C. First Nation opposed to a natural gas pipeline project on their land.

About 300 people took part as the demonstration began, but a much smaller group remained overnight and a handful locked themselves to the legislature's ceremonial front gate.

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1:00 a.m. ET

Commuter rail service is moving again between Vancouver and the central Fraser Valley after demonstrators blocked the tracks late Monday afternoon, saying they were acting in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline through their territory in northwestern B.C.

The blockade halted the homeward service for about 5,000 commuters who depend on the West Coast Express, a commuter train service connecting downtown Vancouver to homes in Metro Vancouver's northeastern regions, as far east as Mission.

B.C.'s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth took to social media to blast the disruption, the second in as many weeks, calling it unlawful and writing "police do not need an injunction to clear and arrest the blockaders."

The protesters moved on by early Monday evening and TransLink, which operates the West Coast Express commuter rail service say it will run as usual today.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.

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