(Former Roseau River chief Terrance Nelson. APTN/File Photo)
By Jorge Barrera and Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
The CP and CN rail lines in Manitoba will be targeted for blockades on Wednesday, says former Roseau River chief Terrance Nelson.
Blockades and marches in several provinces are also planned for the same day.
Nelson said a “small group” of people will be launching the rail blockades and they will wait to “let people react to it.”
Nelson said the only way to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper to listen is to force him to negotiate with blockades in place.
“This isn’t a round dance, this will have consequences,” said Nelson. “It will block everything going east and west.”
Nelson wouldn’t disclose what locations would be chosen for Wednesday’s action. He said the blockades are not being launched under the Idle No More banner.
Idle No More’s founders and organizers have distanced themselves from plans to launch blockades in several provinces on Wednesday.
Harper met with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and a handful of First Nations leaders Friday. The meeting was hotly opposed by many chiefs who had urged Atleo not to go.
Atleo has since announced he was taking an about week-long leave on doctor’s orders. The national chief is suffering from the after-effects of a bout with norovirus, according to the AFN.
Several actions are also planned for Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
There are plans to block the Ambassador Bridge which links Windsor, Ont., to Detroit, Mich., for about an hour and a half.
Ron Plain, from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, said the truck traffic will be targeted by the temporary blockade.
“Every effort will be made to minimize the inconvenience to the car traffic of the bridge,” said Plain, who was the spokesman for a rail blockade in Sarnia, Ont., which lasted from Dec. 21, 2012, to Jan. 2. “Our focus is on the truck traffic and educating all to the reasons behind Idle No More. This is for all Canadians and their future generations as it is ours.”
The planned “Unity Walk” will travel to the border entrance of the Ambassador Bridge, according to a release from the London District Chiefs Council.
“We are uniting our people to send a clear message to the prime minister and the government of Canada that the time has come to implement the treaty promises,” said Delaware Nation at Moraviantown Chief Greg Peters, who is also chair of the district chiefs council.
A northern portion of the Trans-Canada Highway near Nipigon, Ont., will also be shut down for about three hours as a result of a march by people from about 30 northern Ontario First Nations.
“Harper is lying, he is not going to follow through with what he said (after the meeting),” said Neskantaga First Nation Chief Peter Moonias. “Harper made that statement to recognize the treaty rights issue because he was under pressure by the public…I kind of feel he is not going to do anything about it like the last time, that is why we have to go continue with the protests until we get solid in writing that this is what is going to happen, this time, when and how.”
In Akwesasne, there are also plans to again shut down the Canada-U.S. border crossing.
In New Brunswick plans are in the works to organize a march to the Centennial Bridge in Miramichi and possibly block it.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents the interests of off-reserve status, non-status and Metis people, issued a statement Monday saying letters had been sent to major Canadian police forces, including the RCMP and the Surete du Quebec, urging them to heed the “lessons learned” from the 1995 Ipperwash crisis in Ontario that left Dudley George dead from an OPP bullet.
“The letter points out that if complaints are given to police about threats of violence against peaceful protesters, they have a duty to fully investigate and prosecute offenders,” said CAP vice-Chief Ron Swain. “True warriors protect the weak, and I ask our young people to not let frustration lead to unnecessary violence…The prime minister, every provincial premier and our law enforcement officials have an obligation to follow the rule of law. We need to remain calm. In time, I know, that our treaties and Aboriginal rights will be honoured.”
Grand Chief Gordon Peters of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians told reporters last Friday that economic disruptions were in the works for Wednesday.
“We can’t live in poverty anymore while Canadians live this great life,” said Peters, whose organization is based in Ontario.
“We’ll stop it the only way we can stop it…Stop the roads, stop the rails, stop the transportation of goods.”
Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox said during a chiefs’ meeting Thursday night that economic disruptions loomed.
“No longer will the prime minister dictate to us. If we have to shut down this economy, then we will,” said Fox, whose community is part of Treaty 6 in Saskatchewan.
Several First Nations chiefs have been discussing plans to launch blockades on Wednesday since at least Dec. 28, 2012.
“January 16 is being touted as a national day of action directed at industry, the economy and the government,” according to minutes obtained by APTN National News from a Dec. 28 teleconference meeting between dozens of chiefs.
According to the minutes, blockades were being planned for “major roadways, rail lines.”
Railway blockades have already hit in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
In 2007, Nelson also called for blockades on a National Day of Action planned for June 29. He called off the rail blockades after he struck a deal with former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.
Only the Mohawks from Tyendinaga launched any action on that day, blocking Ontario’s Hwy 401 and the main CN rail line between Toronto and Montreal.
Nelson has since said he regretted making the deal.