Local Indigenous communities are taking their protest of pipeline construction in British Columbia to Ontario’s 400-series highways.
Provincial police began warning drivers shortly before 7 a.m. Friday that rolling blockades are expected to snarl highway traffic throughout Ontario. Protestors began their demonstration in Delaware around 6 a.m., slowing traffic to a pace of 50 km/h in the eastbound lanes of the 401.
A Mohawk flag installed in the back of a black pickup truck could be seen toward the front of the rolling blockade in a Facebook live video shared by local Indigenous activist, Lela George. Vehicles flashed their four-way warning and were escorted by OPP along Highways 401 and 402 into Brantford.
George says it was an “act of war against our people” when RCMP arrested 14 people in northern B.C. for allegedly violating conditions of an interim court injunction that required the removal of a blockade preventing access to the pipeline project on Monday.
“We’re pretty much doing the same thing, and disrupting other people’s lives just like their lives are being disrupted over there even though they’re in their home,” she told 980 CFPL.
The rolling blockade in southwestern Ontario headed toward Brantford to meet other Indigenous communities. Organizers said part of the plan was to carry on to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a First Nations community near Belleville.
As of 9:30 a.m., OPP said traffic delays had ended in Middlesex and Oxford Counties, and that a peaceful demonstration was taking place in Brant County.
Similar traffic-delay warnings had been issued by provincial police in the Prescott, Brockville, and Kingston areas going westbound on Highway 401.
The protest comes two days after local Indigenous groups halted traffic at several downtown intersections, including Queens Avenue and Talbot Street, which is the location of the RCMP’s London office.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline’s route travels through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, and the nation’s elected leaders signed a benefits agreement with the province for Coastal GasLink in 2014.
It’s intended to carry natural gas from fracking projects in the Peace Region to the future $40-billion LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.
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