Toronto protestors block train tracks in solidarity with B.C. First Nations

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For more than 5 hours Saturday afternoon, several protestors blocked the train tracks at the Davenport Diamond - that's just south of Dupont at Bartlett Avenue - where the Barrie GO corridor connects with the CP rail tracks.

It's considered one of the busiest train intersections in North America. Freight trains could not get through for hours and for a brief period, trains on the Barrie Go Line were also impacted.

The protestors had cleared the area before 5:30 p.m.

All train travel in the area was expected to resume Saturday evening, once rail crews checked the tracks to make sure everything was safe.

At the height of the blockade in mid-town Toronto earlier in the afternoon, a few hundred people stood on the tracks, to show their solidarity with First Nations protestors who are against the natural gas pipeline being built in Northern B.C.

They're calling on the RCMP to stop arresting demonstrators in B.C.

This protestor spoke with our media partner CP24: "The RCMP needs to get off of Wet'suwet'en territory right now. They have no jurisdiction and so what we're doing [is] we are blocking 'business as usual'. We're trying to slow down, shut down the Canadian economy so that the government pulls out the RCMP."


Another protestor, Ali, explained why environmentalists and others came out to support First Nations protestors today.

"The real issue that we're here today addressing is that CP is slated to be the corporation who's going to deliver the pipeline to develop the energy pathway for one of the LNG Canada projects, specifically TC Energy's Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which is going to carry liquefied natural gas from Alberta to B.C. and it's really a volatile project. You know, liquefied natural gas is super volatile. It's really prone to environmental damage to the local ecologies and to just creating a big rupture in any relationship nation to nation that the Canadian state's trying to build, especially with the Wet'suwet'en."

But many critics of these protests have pointed to the fact that along with the provincial government in B.C., elected band councils of 20 First Nations along the proposed pipeline route, including five in Wet'suwet'en territory, have approved plans for the pipeline. However, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have completely opposed it. 

Meantime, thousands of VIA Rail travellers had to make alternate plans yet again today, after all trains were cancelled between Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal, as Day 3 of a blockade by First Nations groups and their supporters on a rail line east of Belleville, Ontario continued.  It's normally one of VIA Rail's busiest routes.

VIA is advising customers to keep checking their social media for updates on these two routes, adding trains are standing by and the agency is prepared to resume regular service when the tracks are cleared.

As for further protests or blockades in Toronto, it's unclear what's next, but protestors at the Davenport Diamond today, say they achieved their goal of disrupting service.

According to our media partner, CP24, the group says they will continue to protest in this way and other ways until the RCMP get off Wet'suwet'en land and until the pipeline that's planned in B.C. is called off.

Newstalk1010 will bring you all the details on any future protests or blockades as they become available.