Kahnawake blockade comes down, moves to green space near Mercier Bridge
After nearly a month of protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake has decided to end a rail blockade on a busy commuter line.
"We have come to a decision. Our decision is to relocate our fire to the green space in Kahnawake away from the railways tracks," a statement from the Mohawk Nation read. "We want the fire to be visible for every commuter that crosses the Mercier Bridge to show that we are here to stay for as long at the Wet'suwet'en need us to."
Protesters held a news conference on Highway 132 to say they would move away from the rail line. Traffic was temporarily stopped on the roadway but soon resumed.
"Let this be a strong message in demonstration of good faith to all of Canada. We prefer a peaceful resolution and demand that Indigenous rights be respected," the statement read.
The Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake said they will "keep a close eye on the situation" and are "ready to react" to ensure their rights and lands are not violated.
In a statement from the Longhouse, it shared "its gratitude and praise for the the Kahnawake land defenders. These ladies – mostly ladies – who have endured the elements to stand their ground for 27 days in support and solidarity with the people of the Wet'suwet'en nation."
On Wednesday, the Mohawk Council gave Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) permission to inspect the railway line where protesters had maintained a barricade since Feb. 8. In the evening, Norton indicated that CP employees had left the site, but that the barricade remained in place.
During their visit, CP inspectors partially cleared the track, in particular by removing debris, while the Kahnawake Peacekeepers and other community members would oversee the inspection.
The blockade has blocked users of the exo4 line, between Montreal and Candiac, of commuter train service for three and a half weeks. Similarly, the Canadian Pacific Railway could not transport goods on this section of track.
CP requested and obtained an injunction to remove the barricade, but did not act on it. The Legault government expressed its reluctance to involve the SQ in the territory, citing the presence of military weapons on the Mohawk community.
The SQ does not have jurisdiction in Kahnawake, which has its own police force.
Later Thursday, protesters in the Mi'kmaq community of Listuguj removed a blockade of a rail line operated by the Chemin de fer de la Gaspesie. The blockade, about 525 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, had been in place since Feb 10.
- With reports from The Canadian Press