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Protesters block CP Rail tracks east of Kamloops
VANCOUVER -- A group of demonstrators gathered on CP Rail tracks Thursday to block part of the rail line just east of Kamloops.
"We’re showing our solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters in the Wet’suwet’en territory," said one of them.
Only identifying themselves as members of Secwépemc and refusing to give names, members said they’d arrived at 9 a.m. and set up a sacred fire.
"CP Rail is part of the national economy and seems like the only way we can get politicians to talk to us is if we slow down their economy," the same woman explained.
The rail line is located on Neskonlith land.
In an emailed statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Canadian Pacific Railway said, "CP has been impacted by the blockades and continues to monitor the situation closely, in close collaboration with key stakeholders." They did not elaborate on what the impact looked like but said they are monitoring the situation.
This is the latest protest to appear along rail lines in the country. The demonstrators say they are standing in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project, though 20 elected chiefs along the route are in support.
Tensions across the country are at an all-time high, as rail companies such as CN and VIA have laid off more than 1,400 employees citing the blockades as the reason.
A letter sent to the hereditary chiefs by Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the Commanding Office of the BC RCMP, said that "if the commitment continues to keep the entire Morice West Service Road area open, then the need for the CISO has diminished or decreased." She explained she’s open to a meeting to "re-assess our presence" in the area.
That letter has so far gone unanswered but government officials are hopeful it could lead to the end of the protests.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the RCMP had "advised the hereditary chiefs by letter of their decision to redeploy their officers to a nearby town to Houston."
The demonstrators gave no indication as to how long they’d remain blocking the tracks.