Kahnawake Mohawks protest in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Nation, blocking service on Exo's Candiac line
Demonstration comes after RCMP arrested 20 people blocking pipeline project in northern B.C.
People in Kahnawake say they will continue to block a section of a Canadian Pacific railway that runs through the Mohawk community on Montreal's South Shore to show solidarity with those preventing access to a pipeline construction site on traditional Wet'suwet'en land in northern British Columbia.
All train service on the railway, including commuter trains on Exo's Candiac line, is closed for an indefinite period.
A large mound of snow has been plowed onto the CP tracks at Adirondack Junction. Atop it, someone has placed a lawn chair and the flag of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy — representing the 300-year-old alliance of the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and Tuscarora nations.
Nearby, a sacred fire burns. Community members have come and gone by the site since the blockade went up Saturday.
"If our people have no land, our people have nothing," said Tekarontake, a Kahnawake resident who stopped by to show his support.
"We were intended to be Onkwehón:we ['original people' in the Mohawk language]. That's what we wish to remain, and that's why we continue to fight for our language, for our culture and for the right to enjoy the free usage of our lands."
'We respect our mother, as a whole'
Those who spoke with CBC News said the action is about more than what's happening in northern British Columbia — but about protecting the land, in its entirety.
"This little postage stamp called Kahnawake is not our home. From the east coast to the west coast, to the north to the south, that is our home. That's our mother," said Tekarontake.
"We do not dissect our mother and cut off her little pinky and say this belongs to the Mohawks of Kahnawake, we take our mother, as a whole. We love our mother, as a whole, and we respect our mother, as a whole. That's what we're trying to get across to everybody."
The blockade is just one of many actions taken across the country in response to the arrests of more than 20 people last week after police began enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against those blockading the Coastal GasLink pipeline project on traditional Wet'suwet'en land.
RCMP tactical units are currently in the fifth day of an operation against three camps built to block construction of the $6-billion, 670-kilometre pipeline.
"There are acts of solidarity because we're all under siege," said Kahentinetha Horn, an elder and lifelong activist. "All they want is everything that belongs to us, which is our land, our resources and our lives."
Horn was in Kanesatake during the summer of 1990 and said she sees similarities between the Oka Crisis and what's happening in Wet'suwet'en territory.
"During 1990, there were many actions taken right across Canada and the United States — all over the world," she said.
"The only thing that has changed is more people want to understand our position and who we are. I'm hopeful that they want to help us protect the land. We are the caretakers of the land, so they have to protect us, too."
Extinction Rebellion weighs in
In Montreal, the climate action group Extinction Rebellion occupied the offices of several cabinet ministers Monday, demanding an end to the pipeline project.
Co-ordinator Elza Kephart said the group was responding to a call to action made by Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en, to put pressure on the RCMP to retreat from the blockade.
"They're defending not only their land but the earth from corporate interests such as Coastal GasLink," she said of the blockade.
Via Rail trains between Montreal and Toronto were also cancelled this morning due to a blockade near Belleville, Ont.
Exo trains cancelled
In a statement, Exo said buses are available at Candiac, Delson, Saint-Constant and Sainte-Catherine stations, heading to Terminus Mansfield, which is near Montreal's Central Station.
Commuters who normally board the train once it's on the island of Montreal are being asked to find alternative routes to work and back home.
Exo spokesperson Catherine Maurice said the shuttle service was originally estimated to add an hour to the regular commute, but it has likely taken longer than that due to the snowfall.
"We have more snow this morning than was predicted … so we need to consider some delays for our bus services," she said.
The company said afternoon that service would be suspended indefinitely.
A spokesperson from Canadian Pacific Railway said the company is monitoring the situation.
With files from CBC's Alison Northcott, Colin Harris