First Nations Disrupt Canadian Highway, Railroad Traffic

June 29, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Mohawk Flag, Highway 401Despite calls by Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for peaceful demonstrations on the “National Day of Action” today, protestors succeeded in closing a portion of Highway 401, Canada’s major east-west artery, as seen in this image of the Mohawk Warrior flag flying from an overpass of the empty 401 in eastern Ontario.

On Thursday, Fontaine urged First Nations’ tribes to choose peaceful negotiations over conflict in the quest for better living conditions and the fight against endemic poverty. Fontaine said: “We’ve never advocated blockades. We’ve made it very clear that this is to be peaceful. . ..We are not interested in major disruption; we do not want to impede the Canadian economy.”

Mohawks Block CN Railroad Tracks Near Deseronto railroad tracks were blocked by a school bus brought in by Mohawk Warriors, while CN/Via Rail parked trains from its Toronto to Montreal route at Belleville, to avoid possible confrontations (below). The Via Rail action affected about 5,000 travellers.


CN Trains at Belleville, OntarioInterestingly, a poll, which asked: “Do You Support the Assembly of First Nations’ National Day of Action?”, by mid-day showed that 78 percent of the 9,734 voters disapproved. Shawn Brant, who led the Mohawk warriors in the 401 and railroad blockades, said: “”It’s not our intention to bring the economy down or bring the government down. . .We simply want to have a relationship with the rest of Canada that is balanced and fair.”

A First Nations’ demonstration on Friday morning blocked roads in and out of Alderville, midway between Toronto and Kingston. A road near Bala, in the Muskokas, was also blocked.

Protestor at MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, Nova ScotiaPeaceful protests were held in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with the first taking place at the foot of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge in Halifax. Protestors included New Democrat MP Alexa McDonough, who said: “I think Aboriginal Peoples observe with both anger and grief that Canada continues to want to be seen around the world as a country that stands in solidarity with people who are poor and dispossessed.” About 1.3 million Canadians, or 4.4 percent of the population, have aboriginal ancestry; it’s estimated that 40 percent of the indigenous population lives in poverty, while only 15.7 percent of Canada as a whole lives in poverty.

Mohawk Indians Protest at Mercier Bridge in Kahnawake, QuebecMi’kmaq Nation members lined Trans-Canada Highway’s shoulders at the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia boundary. The Mercier Bridge in Kahnawake, Quebec was briefly blocked, while First Nation chiefs in Alberta took out ads in daily newspapers blaming “colonization” for the high poverty rate of First Nations’ citizens.

Read more First Nation news.

Photo credits: Canadian Press, CTV News, Reuters

Copyright ©2007


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