Canada
First Nations rail blockade continues

About a dozen demonstrators with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ont. blocked the CN line on their reserve Friday, Dec. 21 to protest the federal government's Bill C-45.

Credits: CATHY DOBSON/THE OBSERVER/QMI AGENCY

QMI AGENCY

SARNIA, ON -- A blockade of a CN rail spur line continued into Boxing Day at Aamjiwnaang First Nation in support of the national Idle No More movement.

Spokesmann Ron Plain said protesters have vowed to maintain the blockade that began Friday.

"We're getting support from way outside the community," he said. "We have non-native people that none of us know, they drove up on Christmas Day and gave us Christmas presents."

Others have been bringing food, coffee and sweets.

"I really do think people are starting to get the message that this is not an Indian issue," Plain said, adding the rights of all Canadians are impacted by the federal government's recent actions.

CN successfully applied for a court injunction to end the blockade but the order left it up to Sarnia police to decide how to enforce it.

Plain said the railway was expected to be back in court Thursday seeking another court order.

"We're trying to round up a lawyer in Toronto that will attend to it for us," he said. "We're going to ask CN to prove where they have permission of Aamjiwnaang to be on our territory."

On Christmas Eve, about 200 people attended a rally at Sarnia City Hall and marched down a short stretch of Highway 402.

"I'm very proud of every single person who showed up today," organizer Vanessa Gray said. "They're speaking very loudly just by standing here with us."

Several speakers were supporting Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence ,who began fasting Dec. 11 in a bid to get the government's attention to issues facing the First Nations.

The protests target the Harper government's Bill C-45, which they say runs roughshod over treaty rights and sovereignty, and threatens the environment.

The Assembly of First Nations has adopted an official stance opposing the legislation.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley met Monday with Police Chief Phil Nelson and other city officials about the protest.

"Phil and myself were asked to visit the protest (Sunday), which we did," Bradley said. "We were there for about 45 minutes and had a good exchange, a respectful exchange of views."

Bradley said he has also been in contact with Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson and other federal officials.

"This is one of these situations where the Sarnia Police Service and the community have been put in the middle of an incident that is between the First Nations and the federal government," Bradley said.

He added city officials have been speaking with members of the First Nation council.

"We'd like to find some way to bring this to an end," he said.
-- with files from QMI Agency

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