The demonstration along the tracks near Belleville, Ontario, organized by a group from Tyendinaga Mohawk First Nation, is one of many that have taken place across the country over the past two and a half weeks in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation over the now-famous Coastal GasLink pipeline project.
The coast-to-coast protests and blockades of major transportation routes began on February 6 after the RCMP started making arrests on Wet’suwet’en land to clear the way for the multi-billion dollar 670 km-long natural gas line, which is due to cut through the unceded territory in northern B.C. to the dismay of some elders.
After the RCMP last week heeded activists’ calls to vacate the Coastal GasLink work site they were trying to clear in Wet’suwet’en territory, many expected activists to step down (and Prime Minister Trudeau demanded that they do so).
Police gave the protesters at the Belleville blockade until midnight last night to leave the tracks, but the group showed no signs of stepping downdespite facing a court injunction and potential criminal charges.
They said their conditions — which include that every component of an RCMP mobile unit be removed from Wet’suwet’en land, among other things — had not been met.
At around 8:30 this morning, several police officers made their way to begin breaking up the protest camp. Numerous arrests have been made thus far and discussions between the two groups are taking place, according to Global News.
Though the energy company behind Coastal Gaslink held community consultations and signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations band councils, a number of hereditary Wet’suwet’en Nation chiefs are still opposed to the project and are asking that TC Energy use an alternative route that doesn’t carve through their land.
The demonstrations that have taken place as a result, primarily the multiple rail blockades, have ramped up tensions between Canadians and have severely impacted the national economy.