Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has obtained an injunction to clear its railways in Kahnawake and other parts of Quebec as blockades in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia enter a third week.
The injunction was granted by Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel A. Pinsonnault on Tuesday as protests continue across the country.
“After exhausting all other options without a resolution, CP was compelled to take action to secure a province-wide injunction to deal with future ‘copycat’ blockades,” the company said in a statement.
“We encourage continued peaceful dialogue between all parties at Kahnawake to resolve this blockade as soon as possible, while reminding all involved of the material harm it is having on customers and fellow Canadians.”
Quebec Premier François Legault said that barricades must come down across the province because the service disruptions are impacting commuters and the economy.
However, he has not ruled out involving the Sûreté du Québec, the province’s police force, in dismantling blockades.
“Of course the land is under the security of the peacekeepers so we take into consideration this situation but I repeat what I said a week ago: we need to dismantle the barriers for the good of Quebecers and the good of our economy,” said Legault.
The request for an injunction was granted shortly after the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake commended CP’s decision not to clear the rails. In a statement issued on Monday night, the council thanked the company for its patience.
Kenneth Deer, secretary of the Mohawk Nation in Kahnawake, said the injunction came as a surprise — and that it is being seen a provocation in the community. He also said Legault “should cut down on the rhetoric.”
“I think that Mr. Legault as premier of Quebec should be trying to encourage a peaceful resolution,” he said.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said it is considering its next steps, including challenging the injunction.
“First and foremost, we must make it clear to our own people that this injunction will not be executed on this territory,” said Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton.
“Our people have been peacefully protesting on our own territory,” he said.
The Mohawk Council reiterated that Peacekeepers are the only policing agency with jurisdiction in Kahnawake and the force has “no interest in criminalizing people for standing up for our rights.”
Norton said that sending in police will only aggravate the situation and a solution can only be reached through continued dialogue.
Norton also had a message for politicians.
“This is not only an Indigenous issue, but also a matter of the millions of people everywhere who are concerned about climate change and the never-ending corporate greed that continues to expand the use of fossil fuels and, of course, getting those fuels to market using pipelines,” he said.
Tyendinaga arrests spark protests in Quebec
The dismantlement of the blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario — which was in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs— has sparked protests in Canada and Quebec.
Ontario Provincial Police moved in to clear the railway tracks after protesters were given a midnight deadline to vacate, arresting several people. The blockade, which had been in place since early February, had choked freight traffic across a swath of the country.
While federal and provincial politicians have called for an end to rail blockades, Indigenous leaders have questioned the use of force to bring down barricades and remove community members.
“People are still quite angry but we are controlled,” said Deer. “And we are watching and we are waiting to see what happens next.”
In Kanesatake, north of Montreal, members of the Mohawk community have taken to partially blocking Route 344 in and out of the area since late Monday morning.
After the arrests in Tyendinaga, a protest popped up in Lennoxville in the Sherbrooke region.
Nineteen people, their faces covered with masks, blocked a rail line in the city’s Lennoxville district in support of Wet’suwet’en chiefs.
Police dismantled the blockade, arresting those on site in the afternoon one by one.
There is also an ongoing blockade in Listuguj, a Mi’kmaq territory in the south of the Gaspé Peninsula.
— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter, Brittany Henriques, Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press