A rolling blockade of protesters slowed traffic travelling westbound on Highway 401 on Friday morning in an act of solidarity with anti-pipeline demonstrators in British Columbia.
OPP were warning those in the Prescott, Brockville and Kingston areas going westbound on the highway early Friday about the group of vehicles travelling slowly and blocking all of the westbound lanes.
Const. Bill Dickson with Smiths Falls OPP said police were unsure of the protesters’ destination, but he expected they would travel to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory past Napanee, Ont.
OPP estimated there were about 10 vehicles originally involved in the protest but that number may have grown throughout the day. Different reports say the group of vehicles were travelling between 30 and 60 km/h.
OPP have not confirmed the exact purpose of the protest, but several reports say the blockades are acts of solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in British Columbia.
On Monday evening, 14 people were arrested by the RCMP for allegedly trying to stop the removal of a blockade that prevented access to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C. The pipeline route travels through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
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A Facebook post from Tio Gary describes Friday’s rolling blockade as “peaceful day of action,” with groups of protesters — one coming from the London area at Oneida of the Thames First Nation — travelling to the Six Nations of the Grand River in the Brantford area.
The other rolling blockade, which travelled in the westbound lanes through the Kingston area, started at Akwesasne First Nation territory near Cornwall and was apparently on its way to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, according to the Facebook post.
Lela George, an Indigenous activist based out of London, Ont., confirmed that the rolling blockades on Ontario’s largest highway were meant as a show of support for those in B.C. fighting against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is slated to go through unceded Indigenous land.
“This is like an act of war against our people. This is the time when we need to rise and do what we do and fight for our original lands,” George told Global News.
Just before 11 a.m. on Friday, OPP confirmed that the westbound blockade had left the highway and the roads were clear.
The group of people involved in the blockade, which was estimated to be about 75 people, then met at the Mohawk Community Centre on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory for a meal and discussion of the protest before they dispersed.