Kahnawake Mohawks block train line in solidarity with #NoDAPL
by Jason Magder, Montreal Gazette, November 16, 2016
Train service is expected to be interrupted into Wednesday evening as protesters blocked the CP rail line in Kahnawake, used by freight trains and the Candiac commuter train.
The protesters launched a 24-hour demonstration, starting Tuesday at 6 p.m., in support of opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline that is scheduled to be built under a reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota. Anti-DAPL protesters in the U.S. are based in Standing Rock, N.D.
“Standing Rock sent out a call for support and we answered the call,” said protester Roxann Whitebean.
While train traffic was halted as of Tuesday evening, one freight train attempted in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday to pass through the protest, as very few people were camped out by the tracks.
“We saw the light, and then we saw the barriers come down, so we stood in front of the train,” said one protester who declined to give his name. “The conductor stopped and told us his boss told him he had to try to come through. He said he did it so he could keep his job.”
The train eventually turned back, and no other attempts were made as of mid morning. A spokesperson for CP could not be reached Wednesday morning for comment.
“We’re asking the governments and corporations to listen, and to sit down with us and start a dialogue. There’s no need for it to get to this point for people to listen,” said Melissa Montour, who lives near the level crossing where the protest was staged. She was among a group of six protesters camped out beside the tracks at 9 a.m. Wednesday. “We’re sorry we’re inconveniencing everyone for a day, but we’ve been inconvenienced for 500 years. We don’t want to be here either.”
Whitebean said she and her fellow community members have been horrified to see images of violence towards the Standing Rock protesters, and she wants to see the dispute resolved peacefully.
She added that her community can relate to the Standing Rock struggle, because several indigenous communities here have spoken out openly about the Energy East pipeline, and the threat it poses to the Ottawa River, among other lakes and rivers along its route.
“It was also important for us to raise awareness about heavy crude that’s being transported through the territory and how dangerous it could be, not just for people of Kahnawake, but for all people throughout Canada.”
Rail service on the Agence métropolitaine de transport’s Candiac line was suspended for the morning rush hour, and it was unclear when train service would resume, the Agence métropolitaine de transport said Wednesday.
For commuters, busing was offered from the Delson, Candiac, St-Constant, and Ste-Catherine stations, the AMT said. They were being taken to the Mansfield bus terminal in downtown Montreal.
Passengers who usually take the train from LaSalle station were told to use STM buses and the métro. Those who take the train from Montreal West or Vendôme stations were able to board the Saint-Jérôme and Vaudreuil-Hudson lines, which are not affected by the demonstration.