Activists Block Ontario Rail Commuters, Protest Indigenous-Backed Project

TORONTOFeb. 7, 2020 /CNW/ - Several Via Rail trains between Montreal and Toronto were prevented from departing this evening after anti-pipeline activists used a vehicle to block the rail line at a level crossing near Belleville, ON.

One passenger aboard one of the trains stated on social media that this evening's action was "very frustrating for everyone on-board (including) one lady (who) has a medical condition and needs meds at home."

Another passenger, who was stranded in Toronto when her train was cancelled, was Lynn Exner with Canada Action. "It's ironic these protesters would shut down a major transportation corridor in Southern Ontario in order to protest a project that's supported not only by all the elected Chiefs but also by a majority of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, as well as all the other First Nations on the route  back in BC," Exner said.

Stephen Buffalo, President and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, representing over 130 First Nations who support resource projects like Coastal GasLink, was on his way to Kingston when his train was delayed.  An announcement said there were bonfires on the rails as activists sought to protest a project in supposed solidarity with the First Nations in BC.

"A majority of First Nations want this project to proceed. If the Trans Mountain Expansion and Coastal GasLink pipeline projects don't proceed, their agreements with First Nations will also die, depriving these communities of mutually-agreed upon benefits including much-needed equity, jobs, training, education, skills enhancement, procurement contracts, and improved community services and infrastructure."

"Why don't we hear their voices more fully represented in the media?  Probably because we don't blockade roads or stage sit-ins, but rather negotiate calmly on behalf of our communities trying to create a better future for ourselves and our children."

Approximately 670 kilometres (416 miles) in length, the Coastal GasLink pipeline will safely deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, B.C. This project has the support of every Indigenous community on the route.

The incident followed a lawful RCMP action this morning in which six protesters were removed from an expanded exclusion zone on the Morice West Forest Service Road near Houston, BC after having been given the option to depart the area or face arrest for obstruction.

The RCMP were enforcing an injunction of the BC Supreme Court. Six individuals refused to leave the area and were arrested for obstruction. All six were transported to the Houston RCMP Detachment for processing, to be released with an upcoming court date.

Meanwhile, Ontario commuters found themselves stuck in the middle of a dispute among elected First Nations Chiefs, some of their hereditary cousins, and Canadian activists. People may want to know more about the dispute and what it means to them.

WHO: Lynn Exner, Canada Action or Stephen Buffalo, President and CEO, Indian Resource Council

WHEN: Available on demand

WHERE: Phone, skype, in studio or in person at Union Station

WHAT: Media availability and briefing on the train blockade, Coastal GasLink project and blockade, and First Nations engagement is a volunteer built organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.

SOURCE Canada Action Coalition

For further information: Lynn Exner - (306) 612-2294, [email protected]

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