Trains stopped in Ontario by protest in support of Wet'suwet'en pipeline opponents
Via Rail service affected on rail line near Belleville
Passenger and freight rail traffic was stopped Thursday evening in southern Ontario after members from the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory forced the shutdown of rail lines in support of the Wet'suwet'en who faced raids earlier in the day from the RCMP on camps set up to stop a natural gas pipeline in B.C.
Via Rail said in a statement late Thursday that a "group of protesters are currently blocking the tracks" and that passenger train services between Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto had been cancelled.
"We are currently making every effort to return passengers who are already on board to their point of origin," said the emailed statement from Via's Karl-Philip Marchand.
"We are doing everything we can to accommodate our customers and all affected customers will receive a full refund for trains that were disrupted or cancelled today."
CN said that CN crews and CN police were responding to the situation on rail lines between Shannonville and Desoronto, Ont., east of Belleville.
Photos from the scene showed a dump truck with a snowplow shovel parked right next to the rail line, along with a piece of plywood scrawled with the words, "RCMP get out."
The protest is set up next to a rail line just outside the reserve boundary of Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., about 253 kilometres west of Ottawa.
Community members from Tyendinaga sent CBC News a statement on the demonstration they said came from the "people."
The statement said that they would not allow passage on the rail lines through the territory until the RCMP leaves We'tsuwet'en territory in Briitish Columbia.
RCMP launched dawn raids to enforce an injunction against camps set up by Wet'suwet'en opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline along a snowy forest road in northern B.C.
"Those people never had a treaty with Canada. Canada can't claim it's their land unless they have a purchase receipt with the Crown. Our position is they are our brethren. We have a relationship with them. And we support them in protecting their territory," said the statement.
"We are standing in solidarity with them and the RCMP need to get out of there,"
The rail line was initially blocked between about 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., but the demonstrators allowed some trains through after they were told that people were trapped in mid-trip on passenger trains. The blockade then resumed after freight trains moved behind the passenger trains.
Ontario Provincial Police spokesperson Bill Dickson said police are monitoring the situation.
Earlier in the day the OPP sent its provincial liaison team was sent earlier in the day to meet with the group from Tyendinaga.
OPP Sgt. Carolle Dionne said the group gathered around the tracks in support of the Wet'suwet'en anti-pipeline camps. RCMP began enforcing a court injunction against people blocking the Coastal Gaslink project on Thursday and made several arrests.
"Our members from the provincial liaison team are working with them to provide some alternative plans if they want to get their message across in support of the Wet'suwet'en issue that is lawful and peaceful," said Dionne.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair's office said in a statement it was "aware of the situation" and that the federal government was "committed to protecting the constitutional right to peaceful protest."