Beginning Monday afternoon on February 16, Indigenous Canadian citizens protesting a natural-gas pipeline in northern British Columbia, blocked access to a border crossing in eastern Ontario. This resulted in Thousand Island Bridge and the border in that area itself being shut down for about 3 hours.
For hundreds of years, the Wet’suwet’en have laid claim to the 22,0002km area that constitutes their hereditary land. However, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau green-lighting plans for Coastal GasLink, a natural gas construction and extraction firm, to build a pipeline through it, the indigenous community says its land and heritage are being put at risk.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has served notice that he plans to reintroduce a bill first tabled last May in the dying days of the last Parliament. The bill would require new citizens to promise to observe the laws of Canada, “including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”
Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Cynthia Savard said the protesters were “aligned” with the Mohawk First Nation protesters near Belleville, Ont., whose blockade near and along tracks has brought passenger and freight rail service in the region to a standstill since Feb. 6.
Another group of protesters shut down a border crossing between Niagara Falls, Ont., and Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Sunday, but left of their own accord in the late afternoon.
Other solidarity protests, including a rail blockade in Tyendinaga territory near Belleville, Ont., have shut down train service across vast swaths of the country.
Sean Vanderklis, who helped organize Sunday’s protest, said he and fellow protest organizers wanted to stage their demonstration at the U.S.-Canada border to show that “this is an international issue.”