June 30, 2017 12:00 pm
Updated: June 30, 2017 7:23 pm

First Nations protesters block stretch of Highway 1 east of Winnipeg

Police officers are on scene where First Nations activists are blocking a portion of Highway 1 east of Winnipeg on Friday. Much of the Trans-Canada Highway at Deacon’s Corner is backed up. The protest is an attempt to bring awareness to the government about mental health.

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First Nations activists blocked a portion of Highway 1 east of Winnipeg for most of the afternoon on Friday.

The protest happened on the Trans-Canada Highway at Deacon’s Corner.

RCMP diverted traffic onto a service road that runs parallel to the Trans-Canada to move cars and trucks through the area. Reports say traffic was backed up for at least one kilometre.

As of 3:15 p.m. the protesters had cleared the highway and traffic was moving again.

LISTEN LIVE: Continuing coverage of the Trans-Canada protest by CJOB

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Organizers from Urban Warrior Alliance said they created the blockade to bring awareness to youth suicides on First Nations in hopes of the Canadian government increasing its mental health services funding.

WATCH: First Nations protest along Highway 1 east of Winnipeg causes lengthy delays for driver. Zahra Premji reports. 

“You’re sick of being here stuck in traffic. Imagine what it’s like to be stuck in a First Nations community where there’s no hope, no resources for you, and you don’t have anywhere to reach out to. We’re stuck,” Jennifer Spence-Clarke with Urban Warrior Alliance said.

“Inadequate health-care services, the loss of cultural identity and lack of proper housing are key factors contributing to the high rates of suicide and mental illness among indigenous peoples.”

 

READ MORE: Chief coroner asks outside force to probe indigenous teen deaths in Thunder Bay

Protesters are from the American Indian Movement, Urban Warrior Alliance and Idle No More.

Drivers expressed frustrations with the method the groups used to get their message out.

One driver said she understood the need to protest but wished the protests could have taken place where government officials could actually see them.

 

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