Sarnia railway clear after judge orders end to native blockade

SARNIA, ONT. — The Canadian Press, Jan. 02 2013

Blockade of CN rail line near Sarnia, Ontario.

Blockade of CN rail line near Sarnia, Ontario.

A nearly two-week long blockade of a railway line in Sarnia, Ont., was being dismantled Wednesday night just hours after an Ontario judge ruled that it must come down.

Lawyers for CN Rail launched court action against Ron Plain, a member of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, alleging that he was in contempt of an injunction to disband the protests on the railway tracks.

The court injunctions were issued on Dec. 21 and 27 and granted police the power to end the blockade to their discretion.

CN also filed a motion for Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson to appear Wednesday before a judge to explain what the force was doing about the protest.

Protesters with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation set up the blockade last month to denounce the federal government’s omnibus bill, C-45, which they say eliminates treaty and aboriginal rights set out in the Constitution.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said Wednesday night that the blockade was being removed and once that was complete, railway crews would go in to inspect the track and signals.

Rail line back in operation

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer, January 3, 2013

Rail cars are moving along a CN spur line following the end of a 13-day First Nations blockade.

A CN lawyer told a Superior Court hearing at noon Thursday that trains began running at 3 a.m. Protesters left the blockade site between 10 p.m. and midnight Wednesday and CN then did some track cleaning and safety checks, said CN spokesperson Jim Feeny.

Still, the protest issues remain, say members of the Aajiwnaang First Nation.

“We are a patient people but it’s time to act,” said Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain during a Wednesday night ceremony marking the end of the blockade.

Prayers were offered during the ceremony at the blockade site including one by a person who asked that Prime Minister Stephen Harper learn that First Nations people are united.

The blockade was part of a nation-wide protest of the federal government’s handling of First Nations issues.

Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson and Deputy Chief Bob Farlow attended the ceremony at the invitation of protesters.

Nelson said during the ceremony he always believed in a peaceful resolution based on dialogue among everyone.

More than 70 people gathered at the rail crossing that serves numerous petrochemical industries. The blockade was costing local businesses including CN.

A bypass had used CN to move some rail cars prior to the blockade’s end.

The ceremony came following Wednesday’s Superior Court hearing in Sarnia to deal with a CN motion to have protest spokesperson Ron Plain held in contempt of a Dec. 21 court order to end the blockade.

Plain left the courtroom after his commitment to work with protesters to end the blockade quickly.

On Thursday, Justice John Desotti thanked the band council, Ron Plain and the protesters for their cooperation and the peaceful end of the blockade.

A contempt of court motion brought by CN against Plain resumes Friday before Desotti.

Posted on January 3, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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