A blockade has been set up on a Canadian National Railway line on the western edge of Edmonton in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline in B.C.
A group called Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en says in a news release that it’s staging the protest in solidarity with the chiefs.
It says the protesters “intend to maintain the blockade until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervenes and the RCMP leaves Wet’suwet’en territory.”
The group has posted photos on Twitter showing a blockade of wooden crates on the train line and signs that say “No Consent” and “No Pipelines on Stolen Land.”
A statement from CN says CN police and local police are responding to the blockade.
“Train movements are currently stopped,” said the statement Wednesday. “We will be taking the necessary legal actions under the circumstances.”
Edmonton police said they have been advised of the blockade city, but are not directly involved at this time.
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said on Twitter that blocking economically critical infrastructure such as rail lines is an offence and will not be tolerated.
“It is my understanding that CN rail is seeking an emergency injunction this morning — which the government of Alberta fully supports,” he wrote. “It is my expectation that law enforcement will take all appropriate action to enforce the law.
“Albertans will not be economic hostages to law-breaking extremists.”
We are calling on supporters of this action to come join us!
We’re at Range Road 261 and 110 Ave.
Come for as long as you can. If you can bring supplies, we need:
— Cuzzins for Wet'suwet'en (@C4Wetsuweten) February 19, 2020
The blockade is in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory in northern B.C. — although the line has received approval from elected band councils.
Since the RCMP moved in to enforce an injunction and keep the hereditary chiefs and their supporters away from pipeline worksites, protests by Indigenous people and supporters have shut down the CN rail network in central Canada, suspended most Via Rail passenger service, and temporarily blocked traffic on streets and bridges and at ports in multiple cities.
In Ottawa, Trudeau said his government is trying to find a resolution, but also acknowledged the economic impact that the rail blockades are having across the country.
“We know that people are facing shortages. They’re facing disruptions. They’re facing layoffs. That’s unacceptable,” he said. “That’s why we’re going to continue working extremely hard with everyone involved to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”
The Canadian Press