OPP make arrests at site of rail blockade near Belleville that has crippled train service

Several men have been arrested as police moved in this morning to end a nearly three week rail blockade near Belleville.

The main CN line cuts through Tyendinaga Mohawk territory.

The blockade has halted freight trains in eastern Canada and impacted some passenger routes.

The protestors were told by the OPP and CN Rail that they had until midnight Sunday to clear the blockade or face an investigation and possible criminal charges.

Police said they had tried to find a peaceful solution to the dispute, but decided to take action to uphold a court injunction to clear the tracks.

“We have remained respectful of the ongoing dialogue, including issues of sovereignty between our Indigenous communities and various federal ministers, and have hoped for productive communication leading to a peaceful resolution,” said spokesman Bill Dickson.

“The OPP notes the broader societal impacts of this extended protest have correspondingly increased risks to public safety closer to the protest sites. Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect.”

The blockade was reaction to the Mounties clearing protestors who were blocking access to the worksite where a natural gas pipeline is being constructed on First Nations territory in northern British Columbia.

Hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation oppose the work on their traditional territory, despite support from elected band councils along the pipeline route.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the rail blockades had to come down, after initially pursuing dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Trudeau spoke with the premiers of B.C. and Ontario on Sunday to discuss the impact the railway blockades were having on Canadians and the economy.

According to a statement from the PMO, Trudeau informed the premiers of measures being taken to ensure that critical needs are addressed, including propane, chemicals to treat drinking water, and essential agricultural products.

Banner picture courtesy pinterest.com