- Land protectors are blocking a VIA Rail line between Montreal Toronto and an exo commuter line from Montreal to protest the Coastal GasLink Pipeline and in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation.
- The action is in response to RCMP arrests in B.C.
Several train lines servicing Quebec are currently blocked by groups that are standing in solidarity with west coast First Nations and the protection of unceded Wet'suwet'en Nation land not covered by treaty. VIA Rail is now on day two of cancellations as land protectors are blocking tracks near Belleville, Ontario, interrupting trains travelling in both directions between Montreal and Toronto as well as trains between Ottawa and Toronto. Land protectors have also set up camp on the tracks servicing the exo4 train travelling in both directions between Montreal (station Lucien L'Allier) and Candiac.
These demonstrations are in response to several arrests made by the RCMP in British Columbia on Thursday, where land protectors were blocking access to pipeline construction sites.
The projected pipeline is the Coastal GasLink project. Reports indicate that the RCMP is ready to further enforce the B.C. Supreme Court injunction that mandated access for workers to the pipeline worksites.
This injunction conflicts with a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision that asserted the Wet'suwet'en did not give up title to 22,000 square kilometres of northern British Columbia.
This same Supreme Court decision also recognized the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs as "rightful decision-makers" on their lands.
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs have maintained their disagreement with the progression of a fracked gas pipeline through their land and all five clans of the Wet'suwet'en have "unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals."
In 2009, the Wet'suwet'en erected a checkpoint to control access to the area known as Unist'ot'en, which has now grown to be the site of permanent residence for some Wet'suwet'en as well as the home of a land-based healing centre.
VIA Rail continues to tell passengers that they "have no idea how long this will last," and that they are monitoring the situation closely.
A Travel Advisory has been posted on the VIA Rail website explaining which train lines remain open and which are impacted by the demonstrations.
VIA Rail also asserts that they are "ready to go as soon as the line clears."
But in the meantime, VIA tells MTL Blog, passengers "will be given a three hours notice if their train departure is cancelled between from Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Ottawa, Toronto-Kingston, Prince Rupert-Prince George, in both directions."
But "at this time, it is too early to tell how service resumption will take place as [there] will be significant rail traffic that will need to be dealt with."
"As of noon [February 9], 92 trains were cancelled since the beginning of the blockade. The total number of passengers impacted at that point was over 16.000."
The tweet from exo, seen below, explains that "the train service on the Candiac exo4 line is interrupted for an indefinite period due to protests against the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project."
Exo has also deployed a bus service to serve passengers travelling "from the Mansfield Terminal towards Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Constant, Delson and Candiac stations."
For those who rely on the exo4, more details about the service interruption can be found on the exo website here.
Solidarity demonstrations in Quebec are happening on Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.
Members of Extinction Rébellion Québec are also out in solidarity, both on the streets as you can see below, as well as in the offices of government officials.
You can find out more about this situation and the Wet'suwet'en nation through the Unist'ot'en Wet'suwet'en Supporter Toolkit here.
This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only. It shows a Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Event in Toronto.