By Tom Fennario
APTN National News
Listuguj – Dakota Barnaby has been chopping a lot of wood lately.
It’s cold so he has no choice if he and his friend want to stay warm guarding a rail blockade that started almost two weeks ago in the Listuguj territory of the eastern region of Quebec.
When asked what’s the hardest part of keeping up a blockade he answers quickly.
“Dealing with the cold,” said Barnaby, adding the first two nights they didn’t have shelter when they began Dec. 27.
A teepee has since been set up a stone’s throw from the rails where people can warm up.
Inside there are usually at least a half dozen people, including elders and youth.
They’re steadfast in their belief to hold the blockade despite pressure to bring it down.
In the beginning, rules were put in place in order to maintain support for the their cause.
“We decided not to block passenger trains because you know our fight is not with the people of Canada, the citizens of this country, our fight is with the government,” said Alexander Morrison, who has become the spokesman for the blockade.
But that changed Monday.
After Quebec provincial negotiators tried to intervene the group started blocking all trains from passing through their territory.
Now it seems only a matter of time before the courts get involved.
“When it comes to the question of us breaking the laws, we don’t look at it like that,” said Morrison. “We look at it as, you know, we’re using what we have to do in our territory. We’re not going in someone else’s territory to do this. Maybe they shouldn’t have ran the tracks in our backyard and then maybe we wouldn’t have to block them.”
The protestors are waiting to see if their support will weaken but they feel the Conservative government’s omnibus bill, Bill C-45, that is now law, threatens not only the health of the rivers they fish but the unemployment benefits that those in the fishing industry count on in the off season.
It’s worth fighting for, they say, so they continue.
Night has fallen back at the blockade and with the it the temperature, yet the blockade bustles.
The teepee is standing room only.