Ottawa: Canadas national railroad company announced the closure of all its routes in the eastern part of the country due to protests by indigenous groups, suspending passenger and freight services.
In a statement on Thursday, Jean-Jacques Ruest, president of the Canadian National Railway, said the closure decision was taken after more than 400 train trips had been cancelled in the past week and protests had emerged in strategic locations in eastern Canada, reports Efe news.
The closure of the lines, which operates rail freight in Canada, also means the suspension of all services of Via Rail, the country’s passenger transport company.
Via Rail had previously cancelled passenger services between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, the country’s main passenger corridor, over indigenous protests that have gone on for a week.
The main transport sector union in Canada, Teamsters Canada, said in a statement that the suspension of the CN rail service could lead to the temporary dismissal of 6,000 railway employees.
The blockades began a week ago when the Canadian Mounted Police began arresting indigenous activists protesting in British Columbia, on the country’s Pacific Coast, against the construction of a gas pipeline.
The heirs of the Wet’suwet’ en Indians of British Columbia oppose, with the support of environmental groups in the country, the project on native land belonging to the Coastal GasLink gas pipeline. Construction of the 670-km pipeline is costing C$6 billion ($4 billion).
Courts last week authorized police to detain protesters involved in the blockade.
After the first arrests, indigenous groups across the country began protests in solidarity with the indigenous group in British Columbia.
In Ontario, Mohawk Indians blocked the railroad in Belleville town, about 200 miles east of Toronto, which has now led to the suspension of all rail traffic in eastern Canada.
Meanwhile, the federal government has indicated it is willing to meet with indigenous groups but that they must first put an end to the blockades.