Indigenous solidarity protests block Highway 6 in Caledonia, delay Hamilton GO trains

The protesters are supporting Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in opposition of building the $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, and have been restricting the transport of goods across the country over the past two weeks.

Members of Six Nations of Grand River say the demonstration will go on 'indefinitely'

Indigenous protesters near Six Nations of the Grand River blocked Highway 6 in Caledonia in support of the Wet'suwet'en protests. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

Indigenous demonstrations are blocking Highway 6 in Caledonia and delaying commuter trains along the Lakeshore West GO line in response to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) moving to end the blockade by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga of a rail line near Belleville, Ont.

"It is a solidarity demonstration blockade," Rodney Leclair, an OPP media relations officer, told CBC News about the Highway 6 blockade.

Roughly 15 to 20 people are protesting on the tracks with small fires burning on the tracks in the area between Aldershot and Hamilton at the Bayview Junction.

Roughly 20 protesters sat on CN rail tracks between Aldershot and Hamilton in a pro-Wet’suwet’en blockade after OPP moved to end the blockade by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga off a rail line near Belleville, Ont. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Anne Marie Aikins, a Metrolinx spokesperson, told CBC News the line between Aldershot GO and Hamilton GO is not operating until further notice as a safety precaution, which stopped trains in the afternoon.

Aikins says trains are stopping at Aldershot and busing people into Hamilton.

The section of the tracks with protestors is owned by CN Rail. Company spokespeople from CN and CP Rail also tell CBC News it is aware of the situation and monitoring it.

Six Nations will defend land 'indefinitely'

A Facebook group called Wet'suwet'en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity is posting about the blockade, which seems to be organized by a local anarchist group.

Sonia Hill, who identifies as Mohawk from Six Nations of Grand River, sang medicine songs and supported demonstrators before voluntarily leaving.

Tiana Johnson, Darien Bardy and Sonia Hill leave the Six Nations of Grand River demonstration along CN rail lines between Burlington and Hamilton. They say the protest will go on 'indefinitely.' (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The 24-year-old, who is a teaching assistant in sociology at  McMaster University, said the Six Nations will defend their land indefinitely despite fears she would be arrested.

"I'm coming back tomorrow ... I'm going to bring my students, make it a part of their credit, their attendance [to] 'check in with me at the blockade.'"

Darien Bardy, 20, was also leaving with Hill. She told CBC News police officers vastly outnumbered demonstrators on the tracks.

"It not only affects the Indigenous community, it affects everyone," she said.

Hamilton police declined to provide a comment and would not allow media to approach the railroad.

Blockade at Highway 6 in Caledonia

Highway 6 is closed between Argyle Street South and Greens Road in Caledonia. The protest is close to the Six Nations reserve just outside Caledonia on the bypass over the Grand River.

The OPP tweeted drivers in the area should expect traffic delays.

"Please be patient if impacted," the message warns.

Indigenous groups are blocking Highway 6 in Caledonia and train tracks between Aldershot and Hamilton GO stations. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

Bettee Giles, 71, lives in Caledonia and says she saw a similar demonstration last week. She tells CBC News spent an hour in traffic because of it, but the demonstration didn't upset her.

"They were standing there very peacefully," she said.

The demonstrations come in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in opposition of building the $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, restricting the transport of goods across the country over the past two weeks.

And Hill says they won't stop fighting.

"Until RCMP are cleared off Wet'suwet'en land ... we'll continue to stand here in Hamilton, we'll continue to stand across Turtle Island and block the rails. This is not it; Hamilton is not it at all."


Bobby Hristova is a reporter for CBC News in Hamilton. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

With files from Catharine Tunney and CBC