Late Saturday afternoon, CN Rail obtained a court order in an effort to end the rail line blockade in Vancouver and two on Vaughn, ON. Vancouver police were brought in to ensure protesters left the area.
It’s been more than a week since demonstrators took to the streets of Vancouver, and cities across the country, with daily protests and blockades in support of Wet'suwet'en opposition to the construction of a natural gas pipeline.
The civil disobedience continued Saturday as more than 100 protesters first gathered at East Vancouver’s Trout Lake before moving on to block the rail line at Renfrew Street between Grandview Highway and Hebb Avenue.
“Colonial expansion of the Corporation of Canada was made possible through the construction of railways like the one we block today,” organizer Herb Varley said in a press release. “Railways built through the forced labour of Chinese communities who were given the most dangerous tasks under the worst conditions.
“Canada and the Province’s discrimination against Punjabi and Chinese families and workers at the time was legal. So, when we talk about the rule of law we know that Law and Justice are not the same.”
The rail line services cargo trains, as well as passenger trains for VIA Rail and Amtrak.
An Amtrak train headed to Vancouver from Bellingham Saturday was forced to return to the station in Bellingham. The company tweeted that buses would be provided to get passengers to Vancouver.
Earlier this week, VIA Rail announced that it was cancelling most of its services until further notice. And on Thursday, CN Rail began “a disciplined and progressive shutdown of its operations in Eastern Canada.
“This will include stopping and safely securing all trans-continental trains across the Canadian network and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs within the company’s Eastern Canadian operational staff,” the company said in a statement.
On Friday, B.C. Ferries won a court injunction to keep protesters from disrupting sailings over the Family Day long weekend and beyond. The order bars people from blocking access to ferry terminals by land or water. No one is allowed to block or interfere with the “proper functioning” of B.C. Ferries.
Saturday’s blockade is just one of several that have taken place across the city, the province and the country since Feb. 6., hours after RCMP officers near Houston, B.C. moved in to enforce a court injunction ordering members of the Wet’suwet’en and supporters remove a blockade stopping access to a natural gas pipeline work site. In total, 28 people were arrested.
Protesters blocked the Port of Vancouver entrances for several days before the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority got an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court to restore access to the port. More than 40 people were arrested by Vancouver police Feb. 10.
Earlier this week, demonstrators in Vancouver blocked the intersection of Cambie and Broadway overnight, blocked the Granville Street Bridge, occupied Attorney General David Eby’s West Point Grey constituency office for several hours and forced the cancellation of several West Coast Express commuter trains heading out of Waterfront Station by blocking the CP Rail yard in Port Coquitlam.