Kahnawake rail blockade continues as tensions run high over arrests in Tyendinaga

The railway blockade in Kahnawake south of Montreal is carrying on Tuesday morning amid rising tensions across Canada over police intervention in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

Kenneth Deer, secretary of the Mohawk Nation in Kahnawake, said community members are upset about the wave of arrests at the railway blockade in eastern Ontario on Monday.

“People are still quite angry but we are controlled,” he said. “And we are watching and we are waiting to see what happens next.”

The dismantlement of the Tyendinaga blockade — which was in solidarity with hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia — has sparked protests in Mohawk communities in Quebec.

Ontario Provincial Police moved in to clear the railway tracks after protesters were given a midnight deadline to move and arrested several people. The blockade, which had been in place since early February, had choked freight traffic across a swath of the country.

While federal and provincial politicians have called for an end to rail blockades, Indigenous leaders have questioned the use of force to bring down barricades and remove community members.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake commended Canadian Pacific Railway’s patience during the blockade and its decision not to seek an injunction to clear protesters from the tracks.

“We met with CP officials several days ago,” Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton said in a statement. “It was made clear that they wished to proceed in a different direction. While we are fully aware that the current situation has caused problems for both commuter train users and freight delivery, they realize that an injunction could cause more problems than it would solve.”

Norton is also pleased that the Quebec government has not sought an injunction, saying that the government has acted in “a patient and prudent manner.”

“And that is exactly what is needed at this time,” said Norton. “Canada needs to do the same.”

The blockade in Kahnawake has impeded passenger trains for more than two weeks and has forced cancellations on the Candiac train line that shuttles commuters from the south shore to Montreal.

— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter and the Canadian Press

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