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OPP move in this morning to clear Mohawk rail blockade

February 24, 2020  

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Ontario Provincial Police have started to move in on protesters holding a blockade on a railway on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, hours after a deadline calling for them to clear the area expired.

The blockade near Belleville, Ont. has been in place for nearly three weeks as a show of support for the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who oppose the construction of a massive natural gas pipeline on their traditional territory in northern British Columbia.

According to Global News and the Toronto Star, protesters were given until just before midnight to leave the tracks. The blockade – which has choked railway traffic across a significant swath of Ontario and Quebec – was still in place in the early hours of Monday morning.

Sources in the Mohawk community told Global News protesters had no intention of leaving, and that they were prepared for police arrival.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the barricades had to come down and injunctions ordering the tracks cleared needed to be enforced.

OPP began moving in at 8 a.m. this morning.

The dispute has sparked solidarity protests across the country in recent weeks, including in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and several locations in B.C.

In a statement early Monday morning, the Mohawk community in Tyendinaga said they have no intention of leaving until three “pending issues” are seen to:

  • the RCMP leaves the Wet’suwet’en territory in B.C.
  • a follow-up meeting is had with Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller
  • a concern for the safety of families “if any use of force” by police were to occur

“There has always and continues to be, a willingness from the Tyendinaga Mohawks to discuss an exit strategy of the CN Rail Main Line,” the statement reads. “We are currently waiting on confirmation from the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs that the RCMP have left Wet’suwet’en territory, as they have just arrived home from visiting our lands.”

(Global News / Toronto Star)

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