Millbrook band members undertake railway blockade

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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Passengers transported from Halifax to Truro by bus

Members of the Millbrook First Nations blocked the CN rail line that passes through the reserve on Friday. Harry Sullivan – Truro Daily News

MILLBROOK - VIA Rail passengers had to be bussed from Halifax to Truro on Friday after First Nations members in Millbrook "illegally" blockaded the CN rail line that passes through the reserve.

"It impacted the train that was supposed to leave Halifax at 20 after 12," VIA Rail spokeswoman Mylene Belanger said by telephone Friday afternoon. "Fifty three passengers were transported from Halifax to Truro by coach."

The blockade is a continued sign of discontent by First Nations members who are protesting against the federal government's controversial Bill C-45.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting in Ottawa Friday afternoon with native leaders as a result of a prolonged hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in protest over native fishing rights and other environmental concerns contained in the bill.

Millbrook chief Robert Gloade, who was in Ottawa along with other native leaders from across the country as a show of support, said the rail blockade was conducted with the band's support.

"Well today was just a sign of the national support for the Idle No More movement ...," he said, by telephone from the nation's capital. "And it's just a way of our community reaching out and showing our support in regards to the meeting that's transpiring here in Ottawa with the prime minister."

The blockade consisted of a vehicle that was parked on the tracks at the rail crossing on Brooks Lane as well as a number of pallets that had been placed on the tracks on each side of the crossing.

By late afternoon, about 20 band members were on hand at the area as part of a "peaceful" protest, as described by one member who did not want to be named. Some stood warming themselves around a fire and efforts were underway late in the day to erect a teepee at the site. Although the blockade, which started around 1 p.m., was intended to end at 5 p.m., participants said they were making arrangements to keep it going throughout the night.

CN Rail spokesman Jim Feeny said efforts were underway to determine how best to handle the situation.

"We've been in touch with the band, we've been in touch with the protesters trying to determine their intentions, which are not entirely clear," he said. "And we're working with the local authorities to determine a course of action, to determine an appropriate response.

"Right now we're trying to determine the intention of the blockaders and what our next steps are going to be about the illegal blockade."

Feeny would not disclose any specific information about the freight train schedule through the area.

"This line is in regular use and we're determining the appropriate course of action to have the illegal blockade removed as soon as possible," he said.

The next passenger train is scheduled to arrive in Truro just before 4 p.m. today. The VIA spokesperson said she did not have any information available on what plans would be put in place to deal with the situation if the blockade continues.

Belanger said VIA was able to get a train out of Halifax and into Truro for the Montreal-bound run on Friday, so it could be in place for passengers who would be arriving later by bus, after the company began hearing rumours about the planned blockade.

She said the train, which took on an additional 10 passengers in Truro, was delayed by 17 minutes.



Geographic location: Millbrook

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Recent comments

  • Kevin
    January 15, 2013 - 08:33

    Probably too late for more comments. I've always had the believe racism and anger towards other races will never disappear until all people are seen and treated in all aspects as completely equal. When skin color or race means no more than hair color as far as taxes, benifits, grants, gifts, regulations and laws. Even if it is totally justified to treat Canadian Citizens differently based on race or skin color will always create animosity. It’s like having two children and giving one a lot more than the other it is unfair and terrible with terrible results.

  • Rights are Right
    January 14, 2013 - 11:59

    ...First - Thank you to Millbrook First Nation, the indigenous people of Canada, for blocking the rail line!!! appears you have caused people to notice, which was I assume the purpose, .and being from Truro, I'm not surprised not one of the previous comments support the efforts. .....SECOND: the REserve land is WHERE WE MADE THEM GO, and perhaps they gave US permission to put the highways through...If they have the legal right under Treaty Rights to block passage through Reserve advice is to exercise it fully!!!!....perhaps those who commented will accept it being law abiding citizens!!!!...What disappoints I have not heard Harper tell us he will repeal Omnibus Bill C-38 and repeal all the destructive changes to Canada's environmental protection laws...and I have not heard Harper tell us this second Omnibus Bill C45 will be pulled off the table because it also plans to remove much of the remaining environmental laws of Canada.....and what really disappoints me is that SO FAR, First Nations have not called for Harper to accept defeat and remove himself and the Conservatives from Parliament and have a new election!!!!...Warning to all of us, and the First Nation people...Harper will now begin his favourite negotiation technique - divide and conquer - and in fact he has already duped Canada by attacking First Nation issues and deflecting attention from his real purpose - remove our environmental laws so industry can "cheaply as possible" harvest our resources and continue to poison Mother Earth!!! ...WITH NO REGARD FOR OUR FAMILY'S HEALTH...WAKE UP PEOPLE...WE NEED A CHANGE OF ATTITUDES!!!...and we need to stop polluting our water, land and air!!!!!!!

  • Richard and Esther Provencher
    January 13, 2013 - 06:34

    We are very disappointed the Millbrook Band felt a need to block rail passage and inconvenience the public recently. Originally, this Idle movement stated they would not inconvenience people, nor cause disruption to services. They have gone back on their word and now cause disruptions throughout Canada. Millbrook has been named several times in news reports as one of the three very successful Reserves to utilize available funding to develop their Resources and be a model for other Reserves to emulate. I hope the Band does not follow some of the more radical speaking Chiefs who state they are prepared to bring the Canadian economy to its knees. I hope Chief Gloade and his Band Council will join with Canada's Chief of all Chiefs, Mr. Atleo in bringing calm and reason to further deliberations, between government, which is really the taxpayers, and Reserve Natives. There will also be a need to deal with the possibility of another six hundred thousand off-Reserve Natives and Metis who could also be eligible for all Indian Services as defined by a recent court statement. There will have to be a sharing of funds allocated to Native Reserves, since money is at a premium.

  • garnita van tassell
    January 13, 2013 - 01:03

    i think its time for the government and the people of canada to STOP giving away everything to first nations people.when will it stop?. they say that they are a part of canada and we should get used to it. well, i'm a part of canada too .born and raised here. my family has always worked for what they have. the government doesn;t give me everything for nothing. we all have to pay for it. i understand the white man took their land hundreds of years ago but I didn;t. why should i have to keep paying for something i didn't do.

  • Bev. Power
    January 12, 2013 - 15:00

    Unless Mr. Harper and all the MP's and Senators who were responsible for this bill were passengers on this train, who was really effected by this action...the 53 passengers & crew and perhaps supporters like myself who now question this action taken by our local First Nation community. Perhaps a more positive step would be to educate the public on the issues that affect us all...that I could certainly support. Illegal actions do not promote positive reaction.

  • james
    January 12, 2013 - 14:03

    if its an illegal blockade then remove it. get the rcmp and the cn police and have them remove the blockade. its one thing to protest on a highway but to block the main rail line is another.

  • Scott
    January 12, 2013 - 12:20

    Enough is enough its time to arrest these other "group" would get away with this. Imagine seasonal workers blocking highways, rail lines due to changes in the EI regulations that took place to start 2013, they would be arrested and thrown in jail.

  • PJ
    January 12, 2013 - 08:38

    While I normally support the bands in their pursuit of justice, this is criminal activity that should be dealt with as such. They are stealing from VIA and stealing time from the affected passengers. They have apparently gone from a band of native Canadians to a band of thieves. Authorities should take immediate action to arrest the protestors and confiscate the vehicle used.

  • Joe
    January 12, 2013 - 06:28

    keep letting them get away with it pretty soon they will run the whole town I thought we were all equal arrest them you know you wood if it was anyone else

  • imagine
    January 12, 2013 - 06:13

    jim feeny was trying to figure out how best to deal with the blockade,,send a fast freight thru it!!enuff is enuff,,anybody else did something like this we would be in jail

  • concerned
    January 11, 2013 - 23:52

    Did everyone just go to bed after work, or after reading this. Why are we so non-vocal. Why do we not make comments shame on us

  • Had Enough
    January 11, 2013 - 22:36

    How much more do you want!!!. You pay for next to nothing as it is. I am a white male with a wife and 3 children.As a household we bring in around 75000.00 a Year. Now lets take taxes off of that.Lets add taxes to everything that we buy for household consumption, our morgage, heat, lights, fuel, EDUCATION for our children from start to grade 12. Secondary education without funding because we make too much. All of this is paid for,for you and your family. You get a whole lot more than the average person.After taxes just so you brings us to the poverty line for those of us who actually put forth an honerable contribution.I believe that everyone is equal and should be treated as such!

  • Millbrook councillor
    January 11, 2013 - 21:28

    This action was not approved by the Millbrook band council.

  • common man
    January 11, 2013 - 21:01

    I dont see how this is being allowed, they should be fined of jailed for causing this disturbance. Im not trying to be racist or anything but if i ( a common white mail) stood in the middle of robie street and blocked traffic i would be in the back of a cop car in no time. Who gives them the right to block the trains and disrupt innocent passangers travel plans. They then complain that were not out standing for our rights and stuff, well while there out standing around a fire were out working and trying to feed our familys.

  • jake
    January 11, 2013 - 17:46

    This is foolish ,the RCMP probalbly helped them . How can they always get away with blocking this road those rail lines or what ever they decide they want . If another group of people did this they would be throwen in jail but not the natives ,in the meantime all other Canadians pay for it