Idle No More protests end peacefully in T.O.
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8:21AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:05PM EST
Idle No More demonstrations in Toronto, Barrie and a number of other cities Wednesday carried on peacefully with the biggest delays happening on the rail lines in eastern Ontario.
Via Rail reported a blockade in Marysville, between Belleville and Kingston, affecting passengers travelling in both directions between Toronto and Montreal as well as Toronto and Ottawa.
A spokesperson for the railway company said stranded passengers who have not yet boarded a train to either of those destinations will be boarding a bus to other train terminals.
Those leaving from Toronto will be brought by bus to Belleville where they will then continue their journey by train. Passengers coming from Montreal will disembark at Kingston and take a bus all the way to Toronto.
Meanwhile, Ontario Provincial Police warned motorists to be prepared for potential delays on the 400 series highways and some roads, including routes leading to the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, because of demonstrations.
Shortly after 10 a.m., OPP closed a portion of westbound Highway 401, which is Canada's busiest highway, near Tilbury, about 50 kilometres east of Windsor.
Activists say they are taking to the streets to support Chief Theresa Spence who has been on a hunger strike, to protest the federal government's omnibus bill and to raise awareness of First Nations issues.
Toronto protest peaceful
In Toronto, Idle No More protesters held a demonstration outside the British Consulate, at 777 Bay St. The protest was spirited, but peaceful, with about 150 in attendance.
Activists have said they would protest outside the consulate in response to the Governor General's absence from a meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week. Gov. Gen. David Johnston did host a ceremonial meeting with First Nations leaders after they met with Harper.
The group that had gathered at Bay and College streets marched towards Yonge-Dundas Square and rallied at that location for about 30 minutes.
North of the city, a group held a rally at Georgian College in Barrie before marching to an intersection and blocking traffic with a round dance.
In Windsor, hundreds of people held a round dance at Huron Church Road and College Avenue, an intersection leading to the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing in North America.
Organizers say the Windsor rally is not a blockade and is not part of the Idle No More movement.
Instead, participants held the event to show support for First Nation leadership, said Delaware Nation Chief Greg Peters.
He said the demonstration is aimed at showing Canadians that First Nations are peaceful and that all they want is their fair share.
Many were carrying flags and signs calling on the federal government to listen to aboriginal concerns.
Windsor police said some traffic was blocked from getting onto the bridge to the U.S. but another entrance remained open.
In response to the protests, the OPP said its officers and other police agencies are working with those involved to “minimize the impact on the travelling public and the movement of goods.”
“The main objective for police during these situations is to maintain public safety and to restore the orderly flow of traffic and other transportation networks as necessary in the safest manner possible,” the police service said in a news release. “The OPP and its partners appreciate everyone's patience in dealing with traffic and other delays respectfully.”
OPP are asking motorists to check road advisory information and monitor local reports for the latest updates and alternate routes.
With files from The Canadian Press
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