Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller looks back during a meeting with protesters at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller looks back during a meeting with protesters at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Hours of talks between the federal government and representatives of the Mohawk First Nation ended with “modest progress” Saturday evening, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said as he left the meeting near a rail blockade that’s shut down train service across much of Eastern Canada.

But Miller declined to tell reporters what that progress was, saying he would deliver that message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly.

“Tonight, we made some modest progress by opening up a dialogue with the people standing out there in the cold and doing so for eight or nine days,” he said. “We talked openly, frankly, painfully at times, and sometimes with humour. There’s a lot more work to be done.”

The focus, Miller said, was firmly on the natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia and is opposed by their hereditary chiefs.

He said there are steps the federal government needs to take to resolve the blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk territory near Belleville, Ont., which was in its 10th day on Saturday.

“They aren’t easy, no one said they were,” he said. ”The underlying issues did not arrive yesterday, they’ve been present in this community for hundreds of years.”

Miller requested the meeting to “polish the silver covenant chain,” which the Mohawks say refers to one of the original agreements between the First Nation and the Crown.

Similar blockades across the country have cut both passenger and freight rail services, with pressure mounting on the federal government to end them.

On Saturday, people milled in and out of the camps by the railway to deliver toilet paper and snacks at the Tyendinaga blockade, while a pizza restaurant delivered free pies to the demonstrators.

As he arrived in Tyendinaga some nine hours before his meetings would end, Miller said the blockades have been divisive.

“All of Canada is hurting,” he added. “The economy is slowing down. Everyone knows the reports about supply shortages, but we can’t move forward without dialogue.”

CN obtained a court injunction to end the demonstration on Feb. 7, but the Ontario Provincial Police have not enforced it.

The company also announced it had obtained fresh injunctions to stop three new blockades established on its network on Saturday — two in Vaughan, Ont., and one in Vancouver.

“In Vaughan, protesters put their personal safety at risk by climbing on and between railcars … Trespassing on railway property and tampering with railway equipment is not only illegal, but also exceedingly dangerous,” JJ Ruest, CN’s president and CEO, said in a written statement.

An injunction in B.C. was enforced earlier this month by the RCMP to give Coastal GasLink access to a work site for the pipeline, which is part of a $40-billion LNG Canada export project in Kitimat. More than two dozen protesters have been arrested for refusing to obey it.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route. However, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area and say band councils only have authority over reserve lands.

READ MORE: Federal Indigenous services minister meets First Nation at rail blockade

READ MORE: Industry warns of empty shelves as CN rail blockade hits ninth day

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney maintained his criticism of the protests.

“Fascinating to see champions of wokeness suddenly embrace hereditary patriarchy as a preferred governance model,” he tweeted.

A growing number of business leaders and industry groups called for government or police intervention in the shutdowns.

Trudeau rejected a suggestion from federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to have the public safety minister use his authority under the RCMP Act to end what he called the “illegal blockades.” The prime minister said the dispute must be resolved through dialogue, while acknowledging the blockades have caused disruption for travellers and businesses.

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

The Lion’s Fountain sprayed serenely in the middle of Cranna Lake in Lacombe on Friday, June 24, 2016. (Zachary Cormier/Lacombe Express)
City of Lacombe updates stormwater pond policy from 2012

The approved policy outlines the monitoring of three publicly managed ponds

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province surpasses one million COVID-19 tests Friday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

Most central Alberta communities under province’s enhanced measures list

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Central zone active cases slightly up

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read