First Nations protest idles Hwy 17, blocks railway

As First Nations Idle No More actions continue across the country, protest continues in the northeast.

Idle No More movement aims to hand out flyers during peaceful protest

As First Nations Idle No More actions continue across the country, another peaceful protest took place in the northeast Thursday.

Members of the Garden River and Batchewana First Nations blocked railway tracks and a highway intersection near Sault Ste. Marie, after a Facebook event page invited the public to join members of the First Nations between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. An organizer of the protest said on the website that demonstrators would march to the edge of the city.

Road traffic was stalled at Highway 17 and 17B outside of Sault Ste. Marie while protesters handed out flyers.

A member of the Garden River First Nation who was at the blockade said there has been much communication with the police to allow for traffic to slowly get by.

"The flow of traffic may be held up for 15 minutes and then it will be released, but people know well in advance when the traffic is stopped and what they will be going through," Darrell Boissineau said.

"It may seem like a long 15 minutes, but what I've seen this morning, it seems to be well organized."

Boissineau said there is a lane that has been reserved for emergency vehicles.

There have been road blockages across the country as part of the Idle No More movement, including an ongoing demonstration on a CN Rail line in Sarnia. 

Over the Christmas period, similar protests were staged on other highways in the northeast.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is conducting a hunger strike and demanding a Crown-First Nations meeting to deal with the pace of assistance to First Nations communities. (Canadian Press)

Chief's hunger strike continues

Meanwhile, the chief of Attawapiskat First Nation has entered Day 17 of her hunger strike in Ottawa.

From her teepee on Victoria Island on Christmas Day, Theresa Spence took to YouTube to offer a few words of encouragement to First Nations youth across the country and told them not to get discouraged.

"I'm really proud of youth who are standing up to the government and to your community member and saying that you want a healthy life, and that we deserve a healthy life and a safe environment in our lives," she said.

The YouTube video has had more than 14,000 views since Christmas Day.