No movement at rail blockade near Belleville, Ont. after weeks of halting rail traffic

It’s day 14 of the blockade near Belleville, Ont., that has stopped rail traffic in Ontario and much of Eastern Canada.

Cold winds whip the Mohawk, Haudenosaunee and Two Row flags mounted at the blockade, while many of the protesters take cover in tents and a camper trailer set up on the south side of the tracks at Wyman Road in Tyendinaga Township.

The conditions are harsh at the blockade on wintery days. The rail crossing where the protesters have set up camp since Feb. 6 has no surrounding trees to block the wind.

People have been seen taking supplies to the group, most of whom are from Mohawk Tyendinaga Territory just metres away from the crossing.

When the blockade was initially set up, an Amazon wishlist was set up for the protesters, with items like a propane water heater, military-grade winter jackets and zip ties all added Feb. 19.

This protest, the first of many of its kind, began as an act of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who oppose RCMP intervention at a Coastal GasLink pipeline worksite, which is on unceded land in northern British Columbia. Despite other blockades popping up around the country, the Mohawk protest near Belleville is the longest running blockade and has affected passenger travel and shipment of goods in Ontario and eastern Canada for the last two weeks.

Starting Feb. 6, the blockade forced Via Rail to cancel travel between Toronto and Montreal, and on Feb. 13, Via announced it would be cancelling passenger rail across the country due to the Tyendinaga blockade and others like it across the country.

That same day, CN announced it had “been forced to initiate a disciplined and progressive shutdown” of its Eastern Canada operations.

But this past Tuesday, Via announced they would be reintroducing rail travel between Québec City–Montréal–Ottawa on Thursday, while CN said they would have to lay off 450 workers in its Eastern Canada operations due to the cancellation of more than 400 trains in the past week.

And on Wednesday, CN said they will be upholding their shutdown of rail in Eastern Canada until the “illegal blockades” are lifted. A CN statement said the company would be opening passenger travel for Via Rail on the “short-distance corridors of Quebec-Montreal, Montreal-Ottawa, Toronto-London-Windsor, Toronto-Sarnia, and Toronto-Niagara” despite the blockade near Belleville.

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