Indigenous solidarity protests shut down Hamilton, Niagara GO trains, block Highway 6

In response to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) moving to end a blockade by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga of a rail line near Belleville, Ont., protesters from Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton have shut down GO Transit early Tuesday morning.

Sonia Hill, who identifies as Mohawk from Six Nations of Grand River, sang medicine songs Monday night and supported demonstrators before voluntarily leaving.

The 24-year-old, who is a teaching assistant in sociology at McMaster University, said Six Nations will defend their land indefinitely and she will support them, despite fears of being arrested.

“I’m coming back tomorrow … I’m going to bring my students, make it a part of their credit, their attendance [to] ‘check in with me at the blockade.'” Hill and others were protesting Monday night on rail lines on hwy. 6 in Caledonia.

GO Transit announced on its website that “As the result of the ongoing police investigation along the tracks between Aldershot GO and Hamilton GO, our trains will not be able to service Niagara Falls GO, St. Catharines GO, Hamilton GO or West Harbour GO stations on Tuesday morning.”

The transit service says customers can take bus shuttles departing from those same stations at the same times as the cancelled trains. It says the shuttles will “connect customers with our train service at either Aldershot or Burlington GO. Lakeshore West.” More protesters gathered on rail lines below the York Boulevard bridge in Hamilton.

Riders should expect some “some additional crowding,” GO Transit says. 

Indigenous solidarity protesters have shut down GO Train service in Hamilton and Niagara with a solidarity blockade in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the building of a $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in B.C. (David Ritchie)

Cancellations and delays

The service announced the following trains will not operate this morning:

  • Niagara Falls 05:23 – Union Station 07:50
  • West Harbour GO 06:09 – Union Station 07:20
  • West Harbour GO 07:09 – Union Station 08:20

Hamilton & West Harbour passengers:

  • West Harbour: Departures at 06:09 and 07:09 – replaced by shuttle buses to Aldershot GO
  • Hamilton: Departures at 05:48, 06:18, 06:48 and 07:18 – replaced by shuttle buses to Aldershot GO
  • In addition to shuttle bus service, Route 18 bus service from Hamilton GO to Aldershot GO will run as normal.
  • There will be limited parking at Hamilton and West Harbour stations. Given the limited parking at Aldershot GO, commuters may want to consider using Burlington, Appleby or Bronte GO stations.

Niagara Falls & St. Catharines passengers:

  • In addition to the shuttle bus service, Route 12 bus service which departs from Niagara Falls Bus Terminal and St. Catharines Fairview Mall will run as normal.

A Facebook page called Wet’suwet’en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity has been posting about the protest since it began. In an update Tuesday morning the group said it started the day by burning an injunction delivered by CN Rail.

It called for new people to join the demonstration, saying protesters were shutting down the rail lines because of the “violence perpetrated towards Indigenous land defenders and their supporters” and the “forced removal and criminalization of Indigenous people from their lands.”

The post adds “disruption is what we MUST turn to,” in order to make change and said the protesters will be in place as long as possible.

Rodney Leclair, an OPP media relations officer, said Monday that the Caledonia protest was a “solidarity demonstration blockade.”

Roughly 15 to 20 people were protesting Monday night on the tracks in Caledonia with small fires burning in the area between Aldershot and Hamilton at the Bayview Junction. The demonstrations come in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in opposition of building the $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in B.C., restricting the transport of goods across the country over the past two weeks.

Indigenous protesters near Six Nations of Grand River block Highway 6 in Caledonia in support of the Wet’suwet’en protests. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

The section of the tracks with protesters is owned by CN Rail. Company officials from CN and CP Rail told CBC News Monday night that they were aware of the situation and were monitoring it.

Blockade at Highway 6 in Caledonia

Roughly 20 protesters sat on CN rail tracks between Aldershot and Hamilton in a pro-Wet’suwet’en blockade after OPP moved to end the blockade by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga of a rail line near Belleville, Ont. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Darien Bardy, 20, was also leaving with Hill. She told CBC News police officers vastly outnumbered demonstrators on the tracks.

“It not only affects the Indigenous community, it affects everyone,” she said.

Hamilton police declined to provide a comment and would not allow media to approach the railroad Monday night. 

Highway 6 is closed between Argyle Street South and Greens Road in Caledonia. The protest is close to the Six Nations reserve just outside Caledonia on the bypass over the Grand River.

The OPP tweeted drivers in the area should expect traffic delays.

“Please be patient if impacted,” the message advises.

Bettee Giles, 71, lives in Caledonia and says she saw a similar demonstration last week. She told CBC News she spent an hour in traffic because of it, but the demonstration didn’t upset her.

“They were standing there very peacefully,” she said.

Sonia Hill says they won’t stop fighting.

“Until RCMP are cleared off Wet’suwet’en land … we’ll continue to stand here in Hamilton, we’ll continue to stand across Turtle Island and block the rails. This is not it; Hamilton is not it at all.” 

Darien Bardy and Sonia Hill participate in the Six Nations of Grand River demonstration along CN rail lines between Burlington, Ont., and Hamilton. The blockade interrupted GO Transit service Monday night and Tuesday morning. (David Ritchie)


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