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Eastern Ontario rail blockade still in place as provincial police keep watch

Land protectors stand on the closed train track on the ninth day of the blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Friday Feb. 14, 2020, as they protest in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY, Ont. — A handful of protesters continue to maintain a blockade along a key stretch of railway in eastern Ontario as provincial police face mounting political pressure to remove them.

Officers are on scene at a blockade near Belleville, Ont., but are parked well back from the stretch of track that has been the scene of a demonstration for more than a week.

Protesters erected the blockade in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose a major pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.

A court injunction was issued last week ordering the protesters to abandon the blockade, which has shut down passenger and freight service for much of the country.

Ontario provincial police say they’re communicating with protesters in a bid to resolve the situation peacefully, following a framework put in place for managing potential conflicts with Indigenous communities.

An OPP spokesman says exercising police discretion should not be confused with lack of enforcement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press