Via Rail blockade by First Nations that halted Montreal-Toronto trains ends

Protesters near the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve in southern Ontario who blocked the Montreal-Toronto Via Rail line to draw attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women have all gone home.

Protesters in Marysville, Ont., seek to draw attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women

Blockade by First Nations halts Montreal-Toronto trains

9 years ago
Duration 2:06
Via Rail obstruction in Marysville, Ont., to draw attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women

Click here for an updated list of trains that Via has replaced with buses.

After a day of rail disruption, protesters near the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve in southern Ontario who blocked the Montreal-Toronto Via Rail line to draw attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women have gone home.

Via Rail service between Toronto and Ottawa, and between Toronto and Montreal, is expected to resume Thursday morning, following inspection by CN of the tracks and level-crossing barriers. 

The blockade was at Marysville, Ont., between Belleville and Kingston.

"Today is a national day of action. A call was put out and this is how we chose to take our part. Today is about raising awareness and gaining support for the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women. It’s a national issue and we choose to take part in unity with other nations," said Karahkwinetha​, a protester who would only give her first name.

Via Rail's media relations manager Jacques C. Gagnon said Marysville is a popular site for railway blockades.

"We had hints since late last night that there would be a blockade," Gagnon said.

Train service between Montreal and Ottawa kept running throughout the day. However, service between Toronto and Ottawa and between Toronto and Montreal was halted.

Trains travelling in the Montreal-Toronto corridor were replaced by chartered buses.

Ontario Provincial Police in Smith Falls, Ont., have confirmed that Wyman Road/Highway 2 in Tyendinaga is also blocked. 

Earlier this month, protesters from the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve blocked a highway over what they said was a lack of action on investigations into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

A group of protesters have gathered at a railroad crossing near Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve to demand justice for murdered and missing indigenous women. (Frederic Pepin/Radio-Canada)

Travellers inconvenienced

Via Rail travellers were not happy about the delays caused by the blockade in Marysville.

In Montreal, a line of annoyed would-be train riders snaked around Central Station.

Kori-Ann Marshall and her eight-month-old baby are two of them.

"The baby's been crying non-stop because he's been stuck in his car seat. The buses are taking forever," she said.

Passenger Joseph Lim spoke to CBC News in Toronto as he reluctantly boarded a bus at Union Station, instead of a train, for his trip to Ottawa.

He said the bus is "inconvenient and uncomfortable."

"The train is much better," he said.

Another passenger, who would only give her first name Nancy, was also not happy with the switch to a bus.

"It would be better to be on the train," she said. "It's unfortunate. We had very little communication."

Michael Warshafsky was heading to Kingston and said Via rebuffed his request for a refund.

"I booked a train and not a bus," he said. "I asked for a refund, and they're not giving it to me."

On its website, Via said it would not offer late train travel credits or credits for bus substitutions. However, it said it would refund people choosing not to travel and would allow people to exchange their tickets for a later date at no extra charge.


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