TYENDINAGA, Ontario (Reuters) - Police moved in on Monday morning to clear a rail blockade by an Indigenous group in eastern Canada that had been stopping freight and passenger traffic for more than two weeks on one of the country's busiest lines.
Canadian National Railway Co
Dozens of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) descended on the site of the blockade a little after 8 a.m. ET. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said there had been about 10 arrests so far.
Media were kept at a distance. But a group called Real People's Media, affiliated with Onkwehon:we clan families and their allies, posted a video on Twitter showing police wrestle two men to the ground after they refused to back away from the tracks. Police had given a midnight deadline to clear the line.
The arrests of Mohawk supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs was live streamed on Facebook by Real People’s Media Monday morning. The camp set up by members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory by the side of the CN rail lines has been in place since Feb. 6. #wetsuweten pic.twitter.com/ePV4mtpg4r— APTN National News (@APTNNews) February 24, 2020
"Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect," the OPP said in a statement.
The Tyendinaga Mohawk campaigners barricaded the line in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en from British Columbia, who are seeking to stop construction of a gas pipeline over their land.
In Ottawa, hundreds of protesters met in front of Parliament and marched in support of the Wet'suwet'en. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with top ministers to discuss the end of the standoff. Trudeau has said it is his government's priority to reconcile with Indigenous peoples, who make up about four per cent of the population and face higher levels of poverty and violence, and shorter life expectancies.
"We are not in any way compromising our commitment to the reconciliation agenda, but at the same time the impact of these rail disruptions, and the barricades, is untenable," Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters after the meeting. "It's absolutely essential those barricades come down and that rail service be resumed."
On Friday Trudeau demanded aboriginal groups lift the rail blockades, which have also been staged in other provinces including Quebec, but both the Wet'suwet'en and Tyendinaga remained defiant.
The Wet'suwet'en band in British Columbia has been fighting the construction of TC Energy Corp's
(Reporting by Chris Helgren in Tyendinaga, Ontario, additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)