Tyendinaga Mohawks remain at camps despite OPP warning to clear out

Protesters who set up a camp near Belleville, Ont., at one of Canada's busiest rail corridors were still on the scene early Monday despite a warning from police to clear the area by midnight.

Police and CN warned Mohawks they could face charges if they didn't leave

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police delivered notice of a midnight deadline to clear a blockade by Mohawks in Tyendinaga, Ont. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Protesters who've set up a camp near Belleveille, Ont., at one of Canada's busiest rail corridors were still on the scene early Monday despite a warning from police to clear the area by midnight Sunday.

The warning was delivered by Ontario Provincial Police and CN Rail on Sunday to the demonstrators at the camp. Police and the railway ordered the camps dismantled, warning protesters would face charges if they disobeyed.

But by early Monday, there were still a smattering of people and vehicles at the site. 

The protest by Mohawks of Tyendinaga, who have set up two camps along CN rail lines, has shut down passenger and freight train traffic.

The protest began Feb. 6 in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their efforts to stop construction of a $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in northern B.C.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga have said they would remain by the railway until the RCMP withdrew from Wet'suwet'en territory. 

Earlier this month, B.C. RCMP enforced an injunction against those preventing contractors from accessing the area for construction.

RCMP in British Columbia moved its officers out of an outpost on Wet'suwet'en territory to a nearby detachment on Friday, but won't stop patrolling the area — a move that partially addresses a demand set by the nation's hereditary chiefs late last week. 

People stand near the blockaded train tracks earlier on Sunday. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes must come down after two weeks of calls for patience and stalled attempts at negotiation.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller met with the Tyendinaga Mohawks on Feb. 15 and asked them to temporarily halt the demonstrations, according to recordings of the closed-door meeting leaked to CBC News.

But a phone call from a Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief specifying that the RCMP were still on their territory undercut that request, according to the recording.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Kanenhariyo, whose English name is Seth LeFort, speaks to the OPP liaison officers. (Rozenn Nicolle/Radio-Canada)

With files from Olivia Stefanovich