First Nations blockade ends; Via rail service from Montreal to Toronto set to resume Thursday
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:48AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 19, 2014 6:58PM EDT
Via Rail service is set to resume between Toronto and Montreal after a group of Tyendinaga Mohawks blocked off an area next to the rail lines to draw attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women.
According to Via Rail, the blockade in Marysville, Ont., in the Napanee area between Belleville and Kingston, meant its trains on the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa routes weren’t running as scheduled.
Via Rail spokesperson Jacques Gagnon said Wednesday evening that 26 trains were cancelled, and approximately 5,000 passengers were affected. Via chartered approximately 100 buses to move passengers between Toronto and Ottawa.
Due to heavy congestion, Via Rail said affected trains will continue to be replaced by bus service. Normal service is expected for Thursday.
About 20 people -- mainly adults and a few teenagers -- set up a blockade on Wyman Road and Highway 2, next to the tracks, demanding an inquiry into the missing and murdered women.
The demonstration was close enough to the tracks that Via representatives said it was unsafe to run trains through the area.
Three men were charged earlier this month during a similar blockade by Mohawk protesters on CN Rail tracks in Napanee.
That blockade, led by Shawn Brant of Tyendinaga Territory, was erected in response to a parliamentary report that rejected calls for a full national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Protesters told CTV News that Wednesday's protest was not a Shawn Brant action, and that "the women are in control here today."
At the blockade, the group of demonstrators sang songs, played drums and gathered around a fire with flags and banners.
It's estimated there are at least 600, and likely hundreds more, unreported cases dating back to the 1960s, of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
Earlier Wednesday, Gagnon the company had "received a hint of this late last night around midnight."
"We understand that there are a number of activists who have some beef against some budgetary measures that were or were not included, and we’ve spoken to the chief of the band, which is Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte," Gagnon told CTV's Canada AM.
Train service between Ottawa and Montreal operated on a regular schedule.
Meanwhile, chartered buses have replaced trains travelling on the affected lines:
Customers with reservations who chose not to travel will receive a full refund, the company said.
Chartered buses continue to replace trains travelling on the affected lines Wednesday:
- Trains 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69: will be replaced by buses
- Trains 41, 21, 43, 44, 46, 47 and 48: will be replaced by buses
- Trains 51, 55, 57 and 59: operating between Montreal and Ottawa and bus service from Ottawa to Toronto.
- Trains 50, 52, 54 and 56: bus service from Toronto to Ottawa and operating between Ottawa and Montreal.
- Trains 650 and 651: will be replaced by buses