New Brunswick

Demonstration near Listuguj First Nation blocks railway traffic

Members of the Mi’kmaq community of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec have been stopping traffic on the Gaspé railway outside their community since Monday afternoon. 

A group has been blocking railway traffic in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs since Monday

Members of Listuguj First Nation began blocking railway traffic near the community on Monday afternoon. (Raquel Barnaby/submitted)

Members of the Mi'kmaq community of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec have been stopping traffic on the Gaspé railway outside their community since Monday afternoon. 

The community is just minutes from Campbellton, N.B.

They have been gathered there in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, who have been opposing the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline that would run through the Unist'ot'en camp established in 2010.

RCMP have enforced a B.C. Supreme Court injunction and have made a number of arrests since last Thursday, sparking demonstrations across the country.

"We're doing this peaceful protest for them, to let them know that they're not alone," said Raquel Barnaby, a Listuguj community member who has been present at the railway demonstration.

"All eyes are out there and they have support from communities across Canada" Barnaby added.

A sign near the Gaspé railway, which connects Matapédia to New Richmond, Que. (Raquel Barnaby/Submitted)

The Mi'kmaq of Listuguj are blocking the railway with a sign that reads "Listuguj supports Wet'suwet'en." Barnaby said the demonstrators have lit a fire beside the tracks and their vehicles are not on the railway.

Barnaby said that even though the group is small, the community support has been strong. She said people have been coming and going with supplies and have been taking shifts at the site.  

She said non-Indigenous workers from the nearby Industrie GDS sawmill have donated firewood.

Barnaby said members will decide as a group how long the railway demonstration will last.

She added that they haven't been served an injunction from the RCMP or Sûreté du Québec, though a similar railway demonstration near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario has received one.

"If the pipeline went through here, [the Canadian government] would try to do the same with us," Brandon Baun, another Listuguj community member told Radio-Canada. "We must all stand together and show that we are still there and that we will continue to fight to preserve our territory."

Members of Listuguj also held a solidarity rally on Sunday.

Impact on railway

Eric Dubé, the president of the Gaspésie Railway Society and mayor of New Richmond, said the railway demonstration has stopped all trains from travelling between Matapédia and New Richmond and is backing up deliveries of freight.

Dubé said there are no passenger trains on that section of railway.

He said the daily freight trains that haul up to 12 cars of lumber and cement daily have been at a standstill since the demonstration began Monday.

"Our revenues come from the transportation of railcars," Dubé said. "If we have no income, how will I pay my employees? We are not Canadian National, we can not afford to be stopped for too long."

Eric Dubé, mayor of New Richmond and president of the Gaspésie Railway Society, estimates that the railway is losing up to $15,000 a day with the freight trains idle. (Radio Canada)

He estimates that the Gaspésie Railway Society is losing up to $15,000 per day because of the demonstration.

"If the blockade is all week, it will cost a lot of money for us." Dubé said.

Dubé said people in New Richmond have yet to express frustration, but if the demonstration continues he expects that may change.

The Gaspésie Railway Society, which operates 325 kilometres of track between Matapédia and New Richmond, has not asked for an injunction to clear the track.

The Listuguj police do not intend to intervene, unless they have instructions from the band council.
 

About the Author

Logan Perley is a Wolastoqi journalist from Tobique First Nation and a casual reporter at CBC New Brunswick. You can email him at logan.perley@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @LoganPerley.

With files from Marie-Jeanne Dubreuil/Radio Canada