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17 Feb 2020 | 09:03 PM UTC

Canada: Anti-oil pipeline protests held nationwide February 17 /update 2

Demonstrations in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs held in Toronto, Ontario, and other areas on February 17; rail service disruptions ongoing

transportation
CAN

Event

Protests were held in multiple cities across Canada on Monday, February 17, in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are opposing the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. Around 60 people gathered on the Thousand Islands Bridge in Gananoque (Ontario province), restricting traffic between Canada and the US until approximately 15:00 (local time). In downtown Toronto (Ontario province), over 1000 people marched from Christie Pits Park to Queen's Park, stopping at major intersections to chant and block traffic. Further solidarity demonstrations are anticipated over the coming days across Canada. A heightened police presence and transportation disruptions are expected around all demonstration sites.

Rail service continues to be significantly disrupted by the ongoing protests as of Monday. VIA Rail and CN Rail have indefinitely suspended operations since Tuesday, February 13, due to protests blocking rail lines. All VIA Rail service except for the Sudbury-White River (CP Rail) and Churchill-The Pas (Hudson Bay Railway) lines has shut down and passengers are unable to make a booking for travel before Friday, February 21. Additional information can be found on the VIA Rail website here.

Context

Demonstrations in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been held in recent weeks throughout Canada. Tyendinaga Mohawk members have been blocking the railway near Belleville since February 6, in protest of the arrest of demonstrators who are opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. The protesters said they will continue to block the tracks until police officers leave We'tsuwet'en territory in British Columbia.

Advice

Individuals in Canada are advised to keep abreast of the situation, avoid all public demonstrations as a precaution, confirm rail reservations, consider using alternative routes or modes of transportation, and allow additional time to travel.