Idle No More protests sprang up across the country Friday afternoon, blocking streets and disrupting train service. One chief, meanwhile, suggested the largest disruptions are yet to come.
About 20 people piled up two pallettes and parked a minivan on a rail line leading into Halifax around 1 p.m. The protesters said the demonstration was sanctioned by the Millbrook First Nation’s band council, on whose land the blockade took place.
Via Rail used a bus to shuttle passengers from Halifax to Truro, NS, where they boarded a train for Montreal. Canadian National Rail, meanwhile, said it would hold talks with protesters on getting the route re-opened.
In Alberta, members of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, 360 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, held a protest on Highway 43, a secondary road that leads from Edmonton to Grande Prairie. Local RCMP said the demonstration was tying up traffic along the highway.
In Vancouver, demonstrators marched on city hall and around downtown. Early in the day, some talked about blockading the port, but by mid-afternoon, the plan had been called off.
Protests also unfolded in Winnipeg and Edmonton.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, some chiefs refused to meet with Mr. Harper unless he came to see them at their hotel. If he did not arrive, one of them said protests on Jan. 16 would shut down transportation across Ontario.
“We are going to block all the corridors of this province,” Gordon Peters, the grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, told reporters. When asked for specifics, he replied: “Use your imagination,” he said. “We do.”
One protest over the weekend briefly shut down the country’s most heavily-trafficked inter-city rail line, between Toronto and Montreal. And in Sarnia, Ont., CN obtained court injunctions last month to order demonstrators to stop blocking a line leading to a complex of industrial plants.
With reports from the Canadian Press, Andrea Woo and Kim Mackrael