Idle No More protest temporarily blocks rail line, road near Portage la Prairie
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:07PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:27PM CST
First Nation leaders and activists called Jan. 16 a national day of action, with Idle No More events held in Manitoba and across the country.
Wednesday morning, a group of about two dozen protesters blocked the CN rail line at the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead highways, near Portage la Prairie.
CN said rail traffic on the main west line was completely stopped temporarily in Manitoba, but train traffic was still moving on other routes.
Protestors later blocked the Yellowhead Highway.
Percy Ballentine, a residential school survivor, said he was willing to put his life on the line to try and protect the environment, his children, grandchildren and all who live in Canada.
“It’s not only for us. I wish people would open their eyes about the land, the waters, the destruction of the environment out there,” he said.
Protestors maintained their posts amidst temperatures that felt like -40 with the wind chill.
CN went to court to get an injunction to put an end to the rail delays, and the injunction was granted.
RCMP issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“We are aware of the injunction and we will work in partnership with the CN Police. The RCMP works within the existing legal framework that balances public safety with individual rights,” said RCMP.
Protestors arrived at the location near Portage la Prairie around noon Jan. 16 and left shortly before 6 p.m.
Protestors declared the day a victory, since no one was arrested.
In Winnipeg Wednesday morning, a group from Berens River rallied at the legislative building Wednesday morning, calling for a new school in their community. They said their current one is infested with mould.
The two Idle No More rallies in Manitoba were among a series of ones held throughout Canada on Jan. 16.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., to temporarily snarl the busiest Canada-U.S. border-crossing point.
A group of people also set up a blockade on a rail line near Belleville, Ont., about a two-hour drive northeast of Toronto.
Some groups spoke of their own land claims, others decried the federal government's changes to environmental oversight. Still others spoke of the need to honour all First Nations treaties.
In a message on their Facebook page, Idle No More organizers said their goal was to resist government policies in a peaceful and respectful way.
- with files from The Canadian Press