A demonstration against a controversial B.C. pipeline project has shut down a passenger rail route in southeastern Ontario for a second day.
The protest was organized by members of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, located east of Belleville, Ont.
They are demonstrating in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation, which opposes the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline that is slated to be built through their ancestral lands in northern B.C.
VIA Rail said all trains between Montreal and Toronto, as well as Ottawa and Toronto, are cancelled “due to the protesters currently blocking tracks” near Belleville.
“None of the trains on these two routes will operate until the issue is resolved,” the operator said in a note posted on its website.
CN railway police told Global News they are monitoring the situation.
On Saturday, a snowplow, camper trailer and several vehicles were seen parked near a crossing at Wyman Rd., though not across the tracks.
Angela Lammes turned out to support the demonstrators.
“We came, my sister and I, from Prince Edward County to stand in solidarity with them and to support them. And they’re supporting the Wet’suwet’en Indigenous people in British Columbia, who are against the natural gas pipeline going through their lands,” she said.
Later on Saturday, a Global News reporter was asked by two demonstrators to leave the site.
“You’re putting us in danger,” they said.
There were demonstrations in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation elsewhere in B.C., as well as in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton on Friday.
Protesters also set up a blockade at a freight line in Toronto’s west end Saturday afternoon.
Coastal GasLink has permission from 20 elected first nations to build the 670-km pipeline, which would run from outside Dawson Creek in northern B.C. to the province’s west coast. But it doesn’t have the support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Supporters of the chiefs say they have jurisdiction over the land because it has never been ceded through a treaty.
A planned week of talks between the province and the chiefs broke off Tuesday after two days of discussions, with the Wet’suwet’en saying no deal could be reached unless the province pulled its permits for the project.
RCMP moved into the Wet’suwet’en checkpoint camp Thursday to enforce an injunction in favour of the company, which intends to resume construction in the area.
Several protesters have been arrested.
VIA Rail said it would be automatically refunding passengers affected by the cancellations in Ontario.
Toronto resident Nick Smith said he didn’t know until he turned up at Toronto’s Union Station on Saturday that his train to Ottawa was cancelled.
“Didn’t get an email or anything beforehand, so just very frustrated at the way it hasn’t been communicated,” he said.
While VIA Rail has offered to refund tickets, he noted that he wouldn’t be receiving compensation for his hotel booking.
Smith said while he wasn’t well-versed on the protests, he could understand why the demonstration was taking place.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that we’re a bit stuck today,” he said.
—With files from Frazer Snowdon, Kraig Krause, Rachael D’Amore and Sean Boynton