It appears native groups in various parts of Canada are determined to bring attention to land disputes by creating widespread “economic disruptions.” Freight trains were blocked last month near Deseronto and now native groups in Manitoba are vowing to block rail lines again during a day of protest on June 29.
A video has surfaced on YouTube that describes in detail how to trigger the red emergency lights that warn conductors to immediately stop the train. In the video, which is under police investigation, the anonymous creators of the step-by-step guide say: “By halting the freight and passenger rail service, we who support indigenous struggles for dignity and fairness will show governments that indigenous people are not alone. When Justice Fails, Stop the Rails.”
One can only hope that cooler heads prevail this summer. Even a short disruption of rail service can impact the entire supply chain and cost the Canadian economy millions of dollars. And who’s to say protestors won’t expand their blockades to impact other transportation arteries as well? These groups have stated their goal is “economic disruption” and they’re well aware that this can be easily achieved by attacking the vulnerable transportation system. As has been witnessed in past confrontations with native groups, a forceful response will likely elicit violence and further actions.
Native groups appear to be increasingly frustrated with a lack of government action on land claim issues. Hopefully governments of all levels are proactive in finding solutions to these issues before these protests get out of hand. And hopefully the native groups involved are willing to bring to the table a level-headed approach to negotiating reasonable settlements. When our economy is deliberately sabotaged – as was the case during the recent rail blockade in Deseronto – we all lose.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies